A Giant Rise to the Challenge
I love how sports can inspire me to see possibilities in my own life. As the San Francisco Giants head into the first game of the World Series tonight, they have very beautifully demonstrated what it means to rise to the challenge.
Whether you are a baseball fan or not, I believe you will appreciate what the Giants accomplished.
During the regular 2012 season the Giants were confronted with a couple of serious blows to the spirit of the team. Early in the season, one of the ace pitchers, Brian Wilson, hurt his elbow which required surgery taking him out for the rest of the season. Then in mid-August, SF Giant outfielder Melky Cabrera who was the #1 hitter in all of baseball, was suspended for performance enhancing drugs. Two huge blows as both of these men were leaders on the team. The Giants biggest rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers, also made a blockbuster trade in August which many thought would propel the Dodgers to the playoffs and leave the Giants in the dust. Not so fast there Dodger Blue…the Dodgers ended the season 8 games behind the Western Division Champion Giants.
For those not familiar with baseball, the postseason begins with a "best of 5" game playoff series between two top teams. The first team to win 3 games goes on to the next round. The Giants lost the first 2 games of this series to the Cincinnatti Reds in San Francisco. That meant they had to fly to Cincinnati and win all 3 games or be eliminated. This is a very difficult task for most teams as your home crowd can greatly influence a team's momentum. One of SF Giant players, Hunter Pence, spontaneously made a passionate speech to his teammates before they took the field in Cincy. His talk helped to motivate and inspire his teammates to step it up and win the next 3 games. On to the next round…
The next playoff series is the best of 7 games, and the first team to win 4 games moves on to the World Series. The Giants found themselves down again. The Cardinals had won 3 games to the Giants 1 game. Again, they were faced with needing to win the next 3 games or be eliminated. Not only did they win those games, but they outscored the Cardinals 21 – 1.
Another part of the inspiring story is Barry Zito, a Giant's player who was pitching so poorly that he did not even play in the playoffs or World Series for the Giants in 2010. Well fast forward to must win game 5 in 2012. He won the game without giving up a run to the Cardinals. This set the Giants on fire for the next 2 games to capture the baseball dream of going to the World Series.
As if that isn't inspiring enough, the MVP of the 7 game series was Marco Scutaro, who has never been to a World Series. His hitting was amazing (.500 batting average), and his defense in the field made him a slam dunk choice.
If I wasn't a SF Giant fan, I wouldn't even know of Hunter Pence, Barry Zito or Marco Scutaro. Yet these 3 players made extraordinary efforts that helped bring the team to the coveted experience of playing in the championship series. Barry Zito is in the honored position of being the starting pitcher of the first game.
It is a story of triumph that reminds me that the possibility for ordinary to become extraordinary lives within us all, and often happens when our backs are up against the wall.