Thursday, June 29, 2006

Losing sucks, but its a part of the game

“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”
-Vince Lombardi

Losing sucks.

Websters says that to lose is to “fail to win.” That’s poetic isn’t it? Losing is failure.

Adam Morrison, was drafted by the Charlotte Bobcats with the third pick in the first round in yesterday’s NBA draft. He has this great commercial out right now for EA Sports talking about how he cried when Gonzaga was eliminated by (my) UCLA Bruins in this year’s NCAA Basketball Tournament. In that commercial he takes full ownership of his emotional outburst at the end of that game. “yeah I cried! I cried on National television. So what? Failure hurts,” Morrison extols. He goes on to say that he hopes he never loses that intensity (click here to see that commercial).

Failure hurts.

The reality is however, that of the 65 teams involved in March Madness every year, 64 of them will end their season with a loss. The Florida Gators were the only Tourney team that ended their season with a winning streak.

As much as losing sucks, as much as failure hurts, the truth of the matter is that losing and failure are at least as common as winning (if not more so).

The Pittsburgh Pirates had lost 13 games in a row going into today’s match against the World Series Champion Chicago White Sox. Not surprisingly, the Pirates have the worst record in the National League. When they played the team with worst record in ALL of baseball, the Kansas City Royals, they were swept in a three-game series by those Royals.

So a funny thing happens today. The Pirates take a 6-4 lead into the eight inning against the Chisox. Jim Thome hits a two-run home run (his 25th) for the Sox in the eighth to tie the game. This was a MONSTROUS blast. The ball bounced into the Allegheny River for crying out loud! That sinking feeling must have set into the pit of the stomach of every one of the 21,380 Pittsburgh fans at PNC Park at that point.

Let the downward spiral begin.

The Sox then get two men on in the top of the ninth inning. We all know how this is going to end right? WRONG. Mike Gonzalez pitches his way out of the jam by striking out former Pirate Rob Mackowiak to end the inning for the Sox.

Freddy Sanchez plays third base for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He’s having a break-out year for the Bucs this year, hitting .354 with four home runs and 23 doubles. Sanchez may be the best young third basement that most people (outside of Pittsburgh) have never heard of. So Freddy comes up for his fifth at bat of the day. Already had three hits in his first four plate appearances. What to do for an encore? Sanchez sends an 0-1 pitch into the first row of the left-field seats to end the Pirates 13-game losing streak.

Nobody loses all the time.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers did their best to dispel this truism in 1976 when they were an expansion franchise…lost all 14 games in their initial campaign. 1977? Didn’t start out much better. Those Bucs lost the first 12 games of that season before the skies parted and heaven shone down on Tampa Bay. In week 13 of the 1977 season, the Buccaneers won their first game in team history by trashing the New Orleans Saints 33-14. Bye, bye 26-game losing streak. The next week, the Bucs won their home finale by beating the St Louis Cardinals. Two years later, the Bucs were in the NFC Championship Game.

So what is to be learned here? I have five kids who have all participated in sports. My youngest son’s flag football team just finished a perfect season (they lost all of their games). This was not my son’s fault. When a team loses, it is not the fault of any one individual. That’s the thing about team competition. You win as a team and you lose a team.

It’s been said that you learn more from failure than you do from success. Out of adversity comes perseverance.

Today, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a proud organization with penchant for winning. They are just four years removed from winning their first Super Bowl.

The Pittsburgh Pirates live in the shadow of this years’ Super Bowl Champions, the Steelers. The Pirates however have won 5 World Series titles themselves. True, it has been 27 years since the last one, and their chances don’t look too good this year.

But losing, while it may seem never-ending and cuts like a knife, doesn’t last forever. Ask last years White Sox who won their first World Series title in 88 years. The year before that? The Boston Red Sox won their first World Series title in 86 years.

Losing is a part of the game. Failure is a part of life. I hope that my children have learned to win with grace and lose with dignity. If you have Adam Morrison’s intensity, losing is going to hurt…BAD! But if you want to win as much as Adam Morrison, you’re going to probably win more than you lose in life. He came up short in March, but won big yesterday. Last years number three pick in the NBA draft (Utah’s Deron Williams) signed a contract worth over $16 million. Morrison will no doubt command more. He already has a healthy endorsement deal with EA sports.

So if you are the Pittsburgh Pirates and you lose 13 in a row, you still go out to play that 14th game in hopes that on that day…on that 14th day, you can beat the World Champs. If you are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and you lose 26 games in a row at your franchise’s inception…you STILL go out to play that 27th game.

Here’s to losing and to failure. Its sucks. It hurts, But losing and failure, make winning all the more special..

Here’s to you Freddy Sanchez.


At 12:29 AM, Blogger Josh said...

Losing is never the problem, it is always how you handle losing. I have never had to overcome much in my 22 years, but I do have a few things that I have had to endure. It is during the times where things are at their worst that you really learn the most about yourself and the people around you. Not everything will be easy and not everything should be easy. I have had many things fall into my lap over the past 2 years that I have considered myself fortunate to say the least. I worked hard to be where I am at, but I got lucky along the way.

A wise man once told me, and pardon me for paraphrasing, "Don't ask if the journey will be hard, ask that it will be worth it." We are all on a journey in life, in love, and in our careers. These journey's shape us as people and shape our lives and we can sit and complain about our journey being too difficult, or we can get out there and make it worthwhile.

The day my journey ends, whichever journey that may be, I will look back and say, "It was worth it."

At 12:37 PM, Blogger Erik Mann said...

great topic, keep up the great posts, MMA

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