The Young and the Restless
By stern on Oct 08, 2006
It all comes down to something Mark Cuban wrote in his blog immediately after his Mavericks lost in the NBA Finals: you have to want to do the work. The Yankees didn't do the work. The Tigers and three other teams did and their post season continues. It's frequently not glamorous -- it's about practice, and mental positioning, and being prepared, and learning as much as you can. Many lessons in there for technical sales as well, because that's another team effort that requires everyone to do the work (a CEC attendee suggested to me that we print up t-shirts with Cuban's "Do The Work" ethic on them, so I'm not alone in this thought).
My baseball highlight of the weekend was watching Chris Young throw a fantastic game for the Padres, giving him the same number of wins in the post season as the entire Yankees starting rotation for about a tenth of the cost. ESPN magazine called Young "The Bigger Unit" in a cover-titled story almost two years ago, when he had just been called up to the Rangers (and beat the Yankees in his first start). He's big, he's strong, he's Young, and he's even hockey-related (his wife is a member of the Patrick family, as in hockey's former Patrick Division).
Oh yeah, he's also a Princeton graduate, which is where our family first intersected with his career, watching him play the pivot on the Tiger hoops team, until the Pittsburgh Pirates drafted him and said "Hardball, not hardwood." How about that for a story line for the New York papers -- locally educated, multi-sport, bigger than (most of us) life player, and you can make Rangers jokes with his wife? He did the work for four years at Princeton -- finishing in Tiger town before going to a series of very small baseball towns, doing the work for his job before doing a job that worked on the Cardinals in Game 3.
It's not the highest-paid athlete, or the household name, or the flashiest person picked up by the press. It's the players, inordinately big or small, who come prepared to work hard that make a difference.