Confidence Man

In honor of the World Series, which begins tonight, some thoughts from the enigmatic Barry Zito:

Zito said something very interesting about confidence after the Giants won the pennant that helps explain what is going on here. Zito talked about how when you are young you get by with “unconscious confidence” — you have succeeded so often with the sharp skills of youth that you don’t even think about not succeeding. “When you’re going good, you don’t even know why,” he said. But when failure comes, it arrives with its companion: doubt.

“You go through a phase, and if you can get through it,” Zito said, “you come out it in a different place, where now the confidence is something that’s conscious, that’s earned. It’s the confidence to know why you’re good.”

Identity, Work, Time, Seminary, Lost Things, and Baseball

Check these excellent articles out:

  1. The Pew Research center recently published some interesting findings on “Hispanics and Their Views of Identity” (interesting period, but also given the nature of out neighborhood and family)
  2. Seth Godin with more wisdom…this week it’s about protecting and defending your time so you can do the things that are important (and I would add life-giving)
  3. Scot McKnight (who recently made the jump from North Park University, teaching undergrads, to Northern Seminary, teaching grads) gives us 10 Reasons to Attend Seminary
  4. My friend Ryan on “the things we find”…God has a habit of finding things that are lost!
  5. A baseball article. I love Joey Votto. Watch him hit if you get the chance. Plus some of the stuff in this article is so amazing I don’t even believe it.

Don’t Be Complicit

Here are a couple of intertwining thoughts from two different books I’ve been reading. In Safe People (by Cloud and Townsend) the authors write: “An important question to ask (when discerning if a person is safe or unsafe) is: what does this person do with my no?” 

Saying yes and no (being truthful), and how people respond to that, is a theme that keeps showing up in a number of places.

In The Bottom of the 33rd, Joe Morgan (no not that Joe Morgan) is the manager of the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox. As a AAA (closest minor league level to the major leagues) manager Morgan saw a lot of guys who went on to play in bigs, but he also saw a lot of guys who were good but not quite good enough.

These not quite good enough players would hang around and hang around hoping against hope for their break. At some point they would come to Joe and ask: “What do you think, skip? Am I going to make it?”

And Joe Morgan was honest with them. He told them the truth. Sometimes that was a really hard, even brutal, assignment. But, and here’s our quote of the week:

Morgan never wanted to be complicit in another man’s delusions. He felt morally required to provide either encouragement or release. To say yes or no.”

He wasn’t a jerk about it. He didn’t take delight in crushing a man’s dreams. But he didn’t lie to them either. This is a hard lesson of leadership, but, as I am learning, it is important to tell the truth.

We Don’t Do That Here

On a friend’s suggestion I picked up Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption, and Baseball’s Longest Game and I have not been able to put it down. The book tells the story (and the back story) of the longest game in professional baseball history. The game took place in 1981 between the AAA level minor league teams for the Red Sox and the Orioles in Pawtucket, RI (about 40 min south of Boston).

The book is full of a number of incredible anecdotes, and anyone who loves baseball or who has lived in New England should read it!

One of the best scenes centers around, arguably, the most famous player to participate in the game: Cal Ripken Jr. Ripken was a bit of a hot head in his younger days, a star in the making who needed to be put in his place. Here’s how it went down:

“Ripken’s white-hot desire to win, always, leaves little allowance for the inevitability of failure. He is quick to lose his temper–usually, but not always, with himself. A couple of years from now, after Ripken will have emerged as an up-and-coming major-league star, a veteran teammate, Ken Singleton, will show him a videotape of yet another Ripken fit; something thrown, something slammed. Embarrassed, Ripken will work hard from then on to contain his temper, to be a model of retrained passion, the message imparted by Singleton finding hold somewhere deep in his temporal lobe: ‘We don’t do that here.’

Baseball Wisdom

I am a huge baseball fan and I love stories like Phillip Humber’s. I also loved this article by Tom Verducci about Humber. In it he talks a little bit about the art of coaching pitchers at the major league level. He says that every pitching coach has access to the same kind of knowledge…there’s no magic that one coach has that none of the others have. What makes the difference then is this:

“It’s the coach who gets the player when he’s ready to learn who will wind up getting credit for that player’s success.”