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Apr 10

Winning Runs – Game Over

Posted on Tuesday, April 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

“Of all the four-letter words that are taboo, nothing damages the reputation of an athlete like the word quit.” 1

Mike Schmidt

I am a life-long Chicago Cubs fan.

Throughout his career Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Mike Schmidt was called a “Cubbie Killer” because of his success against the Cubs.

So when Mike Schmidt retired abruptly a few years ago many Cubs fans felt relief. I felt sad.  He was a great adversary.

Injuries to Schmidt’s rotator cuff added to his collection of aches and pains. Then after a poor start to the season, Schmidt suddenly chose to announce his retirement.

Schmidt surprised many with an emotional, and occasionally tearful, retirement speech. His body quit on him. Frustrated that he could not serve his team and his own standards he walked away.

Lamar Odom

Yesterday it was reported that NBA player Lamar Odom was being sent home for the rest of the season. The basketball player, entertainer, reality TV star, friend and family man is having his effort critiqued and his reputation sullied.

Graciously one byline reads “Mavericks, Lamar Odom agree to part ways” and another less graciously, “Odom mastered The Art of Not Trying in Dallas.” 2

“Failure,” wrote Jen Floyd Engel, “is the necessary price of greatness. This is why we respect Jana Novotna even as she cries on the Duchess of Kent’s shoulder after a particularly heartbreaking loss at Wimbledon, or Rangers closer Neftali Feliz even as he hangs his head after being bested by David Freese in the World Series. They simply failed in the moment.” 3

“Just as hate is not the antithesis of love, failure is not the antithesis of greatness. Not trying is.”

“Sports fans can, and often do, tolerate a lot from athletes…What we cannot comprehend is the athlete who will not try, who refused to dig in even when effort is all they have to give. There is no bigger sin in sports than not trying — except for quitting.”

Lesson

I’ve been burned out and exhausted many times in my career.
I’ve had hard times and some times wondered when I needed to move on.
I don’t think this is one of those times, but I know that it will come some day.

I think my takeaway from Schmidt and Odom’s examples is that I want to leave when I’m no longer effective and not when someone else has to tell me to leave.

Be careful how you live“, wrote Jesus Christ’s friend Peter, so this is my prayer: 4

Please God give us the determination to do our best, the dignity to know when we have, and the humility to know when it’s time for a new chapter in the story.


1 – Glanville’s book, The Game from Where I Stand: A Ballplayer’s Inside View, was my favorite baseball read of 2011.

2 – Mavericks, Lamar Odom agree to part ways

3 – Odom mastered The Art of Not Trying in Dallas

4 – 1 Peter 2:12, NLT

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