Even though I had braced myself against it (as I’m sure most longtime Cub fans had), my knees still buckled when the Rajai Davis rocket cleared the left-field wall and erased the lead in the eighth inning of Game 7 of the World Series.
Don’t worry. This isn’t going to be another baseball-is-life tortured metaphor. I’ve been watching baseball (and living life) now for almost 50 years, and, although I love baseball (and life), I don’t see many similarities. Baseball usually takes too long; life goes by way too fast. Hot dogs taste way better in baseball than they do in real life. And in life, you can usually switch seats if you’re stuck sitting next to some yahoo spraying a steady stream of inanities into your ear.
So I’m as sick of the baseball-life metaphors as you are. (Although if you’ve got one that incorporates the infield-fly rule, I’ll give that a whirl.)
It’s also not going to be a schmaltzy blub-fest about how suffering through yaddayaddayadda for XY years has brought my family together. That’s what Facebook is for!
This is a baseball-as-bureaucracy metaphor.
Approximately three minutes after the jubilant Cubs have won the World Series, the first blahblahblah since nineteen-ought-yaddayaddayadda. They are interviewing the overjoyed victors on the field. They’re glowing, overcome by emotion. Struggling to even find the words to adequately capture what just happened.
But the first three Cub players interviewed on the field after the final out each pointed to one crucial factor as the clear turning point in what has been called the greatest Game 7 ever. It was not “grit.” It was not “determination.” It was not even “110%”. It was…“a meeting.”
“Jason Heyward called a meeting, only the players,” Cubs first-baseman Anthony Rizzo said in his on-field interview, describing how the team spent the 17-minute rain delay that came before the 10th inning.
The biggest play of the biggest game was, essentially, a staff meeting.
I went into Game 7, as I have with the roughly 9 million other baseball games I’ve watched, without having given much thought to the intersection of baseball and meetings. That’s one of the things I love about baseball. Very few meetings. It’s the most individual of team sports. (And I like to think that when they do have meetings, they’re something like this.)
But having spent nearly 20 years in school district bureaucracies, I have given a lot of thought to the intersection of my work life and meetings. And the thought would usually go something like: Dear lord, is there an alternate route?
Because too many meetings tended to go something like this, bogged down in the day-to-day minutiae and bottomless agendas.
A meeting during a 17-minute World Series rain delay has to be a little more big-picture. “I told them I love them,” said Heyward, who probably had the biggest reason of all to spend the delay sulking at his locker, given how poorly he played all season and post-season. Instead, he rallied his teammates. “I told them I’m proud of the way they overcame everything together. I told them everyone has to look in the mirror, and know everyone contributed to this season and to where we are at this point.”
That got me remembering some of the unbureaucratic meetings I went to my last couple of years at the Denver Public Schools, when we focused on shifting our culture from bureaucracy to service and spent more meeting time on mission and less on minutiae.
And that’s where the rallying power is in public education. It’s in winning for our children, their education, and their future.
Now that’s life.