It was known as a miracle season - the year the Curse of the Bambino was broken. It had been years since the club had won the American League East Division title and almost fifteen years since winning the American League Pennant. Needless to say, when the Red Sox faced off with the Yankees for game four of the 2004 ALCS, things did not look so great. Down three games, the Red Sox had to win. The season would be over and the Yankees, who dominated the American League East for a better part of the previous decade, would face off against the St. Louis Cardinals.
In true comeback style, fans would have to wait for the bottom of the ninth inning when David Ortiz hit a walk-off two run homer to win the game. Because in baseball it ain’t over till its over! With their new found momentum, the Red Sox overtook the Yankees in the last three games winning the American League Pennant. They would go on to sweep the Cardinals winning the World Series. Their first win in over eighty years!
I love baseball and I think I appreciate the game more now than while I was competing. I enjoy the pace and strategy of baseball, but I love most the fact that, until the final out is recorded, you are always in the game. Looking at the 2004 Boston Red Sox, it’s easy to rally behind and appreciate them - the underdog. But for there to be a great comeback, a Cinderella story if you will, someone has to lose. Big.
Sophomore year in college, during our conference tournament, we were ahead 12-0 in the third inning against a team we had swept during the regular season. Easily cruising to a conference championship game showdown against our biggest rival. A sure victory. Expecting our opponent to give up, we eased up and lost a bit of our edge. Guess what, they didn't give up. They actually came back and kicked our asses out of the tournament, thus abruptly ending our great season. A tough lesson.
It’s easy to let things slide when you feel ahead of the game. No matter how far off the race is, no matter how well you trained the week before, you have to approach each day and every workout the same. With intent, focus and resolve. I’ve said it before, “This is not your practice life.” We cannot let ourselves get into a mindset that the game will be over. Time to quit. We must be relentless to strive forward making progress towards our goals of becoming our best selves. Even if it’s one workout at time.
This also means that no matter how far behind the curve you feel, no matter how long it's been since you worked out, or how bad you ate this past weekend, you are always in the game. Stay on it. Be relentless. Move forward. Make progress. You don't have to score all 12 runs right away, you just have to focus on the next pitch.