July 29, 2013

Grit: The key to success

Every now and then a player will come along who inspires the phrase – he’s a "gritty" player.  For Angel fans names like David Eckstein come to mind almost immediately or perhaps Darin Erstad or even… Bobby Grich.

For a long time – you could attach such a label to a ball player and nobody would really question it at all.  With the emergence of sabermetrics and more in depth statistical analysis – some people view grit as nothing more than fairy dust.  In other words it’s not real because it’s not really measurable.  Admit it; when you read the title of this blog, you smiled and maybe even chuckled a bit at the notion that something like “grit” was real.

Is “grit” real?  Are there players who have it and those who don’t and is it a factor in the success or failure of a player?  Before you attempt to answer those questions – please spend six minutes watching the video below.  It’s just six minutes long, but it could shed some new light on the subject.

Duckworth describes grit in a variety of ways.  She says it’s about  “passion and perseverance.”  She goes on to say that “grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

Her data shows that grit is “usually unrelated or even inversely related to measures of talent.”  

Duckworth also admits that science knows very little about how to build it.  Her studies are clear that talent alone does not necessarily translate into success.  In fact, her data shows that grit is unrelated or inversely related to measures of talent.

The most telling part of her talk is that those who have grit don’t view failure as a permanent condition.  I think good closers have grit because they’re able to put past failures behind them and attack the next opportunity.  

The idea that grit is a factor also feeds into one of my own philosophies about Cuban born players.  Given what some of them have had to go through just to have an opportunity to play in the major leagues is beyond amazing.  When you really think about guys like Kendrys Morales who made 8 attempts to defect it makes you stop and realize that playing baseball isn’t pressure at all.  In fact, it’s easy compared to their other life experiences.  Does Morales have grit?  I’d think he’d have to, wouldn’t you?

In any case - I think there's some merit to the notion that having grit matters.  How about you?

July 5, 2013

I want this, you want this, all Angel fans want this

Sunday evening at approximately 5:05 p.m. the Angels will take on the Boston Red Sox.  Normally, any meeting between the two teams has the potential for drama and all the things one can hope for in a baseball game.  This game, which will be ESPN’s Sunday night game, has an element to it that makes it extra special; it features Jered Weaver going against John Lackey.

That’s right; the once undisputed leader of the pitching staff – Lackey goes head to head against the team’s current lead dog - Jered Weaver.  If ever a matchup had “epic” written all over it for Angel fans, this is it.  Both are emotional leaders whose competitive fire is always evident whenever they take the mound. 

One left the team and in his own way sent jabs at a fan base and an organization that haven’t been forgotten.  The other cemented himself as a fan-favorite when he signed an extension at a discounted price and calmly asked “how much do you really need?” when asked about his contract.

In many Angel fans’ eyes – this is the battle between good and evil.  This is a game you circle, clear your calendar for and make sure any and all distractions are eliminated beforehand. 

Maybe the game will be uneventful.  Maybe it will be one sided. 

Then again, maybe- just maybe, it will be one for the ages.  If you’re only going to go to one Angel game all year, this is the one you want to be at.  This is what it’s all about.  Forget about looking ahead to possible post season plans.  Forget about all the games that await us.  It’s time to focus on this game and this matchup. 

My adrenaline is already rocketing upward.  I want this game.  You want this game.  We all want this game more than any other regular season game thus far. 

I’m sure both pitchers will down play the matchup and Mike Scioscia will say it’s just another game, but you and I know differently.  This is anything but just another game. 

I want this in the worst way and anything short of a victory will be a huge disappointment.  When you have that much on the line – it makes your stomach queasy and your head spin.  I know how you feel and trust me – this is a good thing.

This is baseball at its best.  It’s time to go all in, knowing we have no control over anything that’s about to happen.  There is potential for absolute joy and also the possibility for feeling the lowest of lows. 

To that I say - bring it on.  Let’s bury John Lackey and the Red Sox.  Let’s come in with a swagger and rise up victorious. 

Angel fans – it’s time to rally, put on your gear and come to the stadium to make sure the world knows that John Lackey isn’t welcome in our house and we want his head on a platter.

Let’s do this.