The Chicago Cubs finished the 2014 season 73-89, eight games under .500 and 17 games behind the first place St. Louis Cardinals. But that was then. This is now. Now, the Cubbies have Joe Maddon as their manager, and in just one year, Maddon has motivated his men to make a massive and mammoth march toward the goal of winning a World Series, the first since 1908.
The Cubs won back-to-back World Series championships in 1907 and 1908, becoming the first Major League team to play in three consecutive Fall Classics, and the first to win it twice. The team has appeared in seven World Series following their 1908 title, most recently in 1945. The Cubs have not won the World Series in 107 years, the longest championship drought of any major North American professional sports team.
But somebody say “Turnaround!”
The Cubs finished this season with the third best record in baseball. These same Cubs beat the Pittsburg Pirates in a one game playoff and then went on to defeat the league leading St. Louis Cardinals 3-1 in the National League Division Series, and now they face the New York Mets in a NLCS showdown.
Motivation is often overlooked and underestimated, unobserved and disregarded, passed over and swept under. But those of us who know the value of motivation know that a good motivator can make or break a player or a game or a team or a season. And that’s why you need a good coach.
A good coach can motivate a team to do the impossible and the improbable. A good coach can inspire and influence and impact in ways that numbers and statistics and digits will never tell. And from all accounts, Joe Maddon is doing just that with the 2015 Cubs.
The Cubs and the Mets have never met in the playoffs. Ever. So this should be a doozy of a series.
So what about you? Who are you motivating and encouraging and prompting and provoking to greatness? Joe Maddon came up short in Tampa, as my Phillies beat Joe’s Tampa Bay Ray’s in the 2008 World Series. But that didn’t stop Joe from trying. Now he’s with the Cubs doing his thing, and I hope he pulls it off.
So stop crying over spilled milk and reliving long ago losses and wrangling over missed opportunities. Stop waiting for someone to come along and encourage you and start looking for someone else to encourage. You’ll be glad you did.