It's A Game of Pitching
It's DOCtober and the playoffs are here. Tomorrow night the National League Championship Series begins in Philadelphia and the talk around baseball is about the match up between two outstanding pitchers – Roy Halladay vs Tim Lincicum – to begin the series.
Everyone who follows baseball knows this about the game: Baseball at its core, is a game of pitching. Several years ago, when attendance was down and owners wanted to make the game more exciting the emphasis was placed on hitting. The owner's theory was that fans wanted to see more “action” (hitting) and big hitters would draw fans to the ballpark. In one sense that was true. Sosa & McGwire (I was there for McGwire’s #66) put people in the seats, but St. Louis and Chicago were baseball towns before those two sluggers came on the scene, and neither team won a World Series with them.
Something has happened in baseball. The best hitter in all of baseball (Albert Pujols) is sitting home this post season, and the best hitting team in the National League was swept in the first round of the playoffs, which included a no-hitter and a shutout. The adage “good pitching stops good hitting” was never more true than it was during that first round series against the Reds. Pitching is back. Actually, it never left.
The Philadelphia Phillies have sold out 123 games in a row – and it wasn’t the hitting, it was the pitching that put fans in the seats. Well, to be fair, it was the winning and the winning was achieved with great pitching not great hitting. The pitching – the core of the game – is what brought the winning, and the winning is what brought the fans. So what?
So Albert Pujols (whose team isn’t in the playoffs this year) and Ryan Howard (whose team is – but not because of him) aren’t worth the money. There I said it. No, St. Louis should not pay Albert an astronomical amount of money to keep him in St. Louis. They should get pitching. No, Philadelphia shouldn’t pay Jason Werth top dollar to keep him. They should keep their pitching staff – and pay to make it even better. Pitching, not hitting wins baseball games, and winning puts fans in the seats. Are hitting, defense and speed important? Sure. Can you win without them? Maybe – but you can’t win without great pitching.
Here are the principles and applications for us:
Key Principle #1: Know the core of your business and spend your top dollars to make that a winner.
Application #1: What is the thing in your organization that is comparable to “pitching?” Invest there, and don’t be seduced by those who will tell you that something else (i.e. hitting) will fill the seats.
Key Principle #2: On a personal level, the same principle applies. What is the core of who you are? What is your Core Motivator?
Application #2: Invest in who you are. Live there. Major there. And don’t be seduced by those who will tell you to be someone you’re not in order to “fill the seats.” The only way to win in the game of life is to be fully who you were created to be.
Know who you are and BE IT!