I’ve been a Cubs fan for 20 years. It’s the first team I adopted when I moved to Chicago after college. I realize that’s not a lifetime, but I’m emotionally invested. It is for this reason that the World Series run up was thrilling and scary all at the same time. It’s magnified because I live right off of Addison St. a mile and a half from Wrigley.
There are so many lessons on teamwork in this victory: players that committed errors in the field only to follow it with a homerun at their next at bat. Recovering from disappointment and mistakes with resiliency. This is a team that relied on team depth and did not have reliance on any one player. It reminds me of the great Bo Schembechler speech (excerpts below):
“We want the Big Ten championship and we’re gonna win it as a Team. They can throw out all those great backs, and great quarterbacks, and great defensive players, throughout the country and in this conference, but there’s gonna be one Team that’s gonna play solely as a Team. No man is more important than The Team. No coach is more important than The Team. The Team, The Team, The Team, and if we think that way, all of us, everything that you do, you take into consideration what effect does it have on my Team? … We’re gonna win it. We’re gonna win the championship again because we’re gonna play as team, better than anybody else in this conference, we’re gonna play together as a team. We’re gonna believe in each other, we’re not gonna criticize each other, we’re not gonna talk about each other, we’re gonna encourage each other. And when we play as a team, when the old season is over, you and I know, it’s gonna be Michigan again, Michigan.”
But there is another story to tell. Kids know the baseball players. They know the managers. Both are on TV a lot. Maybe they know the owners, too. But how many kids know the presidents of the teams? How many do you know? Among the reasons I am prideful of the Cubs is that one of the chief architects of what may be arguably the turn-around of the century — quite literally — is a bona-fide NERD: Theo Epstein.
And in addition to his success, what is great about Theo is that he sits in the seats — he’s on TV and that means the kids know him. They know he’s a nerd. They know he trusts in data, they know he takes risks. And as much as they admire the players — and they do — they also admire Theo. Don’t get me wrong, my pride and my kids’ admiration is not a zero-sum game. The players deserve an incredible amount of credit. Their dedication to the sport and reversing a century of despair is monumental. And we can also lift up Theo and stand in wonder of his brilliance. If you haven’t read Moneyball, go do it but also tell your kids about it — it chronicles the data-first philosophy of which Theo is an adherent and central cast member. People like Dean Kamen and his FIRST organization are doing a ton to raise the popularity of inventors and put them on the same pedestal as professional athletes. Indeed, Kamen started FIRST because he wanted to create a super bowl-scale event worthy of a Black Eyed Peas halftime show, something he eventually pulled off and continues every year. It’s progress that the President of the United States hosts inventors and scientists (especially young ones) in addition to championship sports teams. The more we lift up Dean, Theo, Elon and aspiring young inventors who are yet famous, the better our world will be.