Published on: March 7, 2019
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Hi, Kevin Coupe here, and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy … coming to you this week from Port St. Lucie, Florida, where I’m spending some time watching the New York Mets in spring training.
There is, needless to say, a business lesson to be found here.
Jim Palmer, one of the great Baltimore Orioles pitchers of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, once said that he hated spring training, because he hated the incessant work on fundamentals.
Sandy Koufax, on the other hand, had a different opinion. Koufax, one of the greatest pitchers ever, once said, “People who write about spring training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball.”
In other words, spring training is essential to continued excellence.
Don’t know about you, but if I have to choose between Koufax and Palmer for my all-time all-star team, I know who I’m choosing. And it isn’t Palmer.
There’s a great business lesson in how teams approach - or should approach - spring training.
When spring training is done right, it is all about getting the little things right. Pitching. Catching. Fielding. Throwing. Hitting the cutoff man. Running the bases. Even bunting … though for my money, far too little attention is paid to bunting.
Do these things right, and it is the difference between good and great. It is the difference between winning and losing. It is the difference between the minor leagues and the major leagues.
In the words of Crash Davis in Bull Durham, “Know what the difference between hitting .250 and .300 is? It's 25 hits. 25 hits in 500 at bats is 50 points, okay? There's 6 months in a season, that's about 25 weeks. That means if you get just one extra flare a week - just one - a gorp... you get a ground ball, you get a ground ball with eyes... you get a dying quail, just one more dying quail a week... and you're in Yankee Stadium.” (Kudos to Ron Shelton for writing those words, and Kevin Costner for delivering them so convincingly.)
The business point is this: I know that companies have to focus on big ideas, big initiatives, big strategies, big swings. Not only do I know it, but I believe in it … companies that get in trouble and say they need to get back to fundamentals largely got that way because they didn’t do the little things right, which meant they couldn’t do the big things right.
It is critical to get the small things right. To execute, over and over. To understand that tactics effectively implemented allow strategies to flourish.
That’s a pretty good business lesson, I think … especially when it comes to you while standing in the sun, listening for the crack of the bat, and watching players wander the baseball diamond, making people like me - long-suffering Mets fans - feel that hope springs eternal.
It always does in March. I hope I feel the same way in September, when I go to Citi Field to worship a religion that, in the words of Annie Savoy, is “full of magic, cosmic truth and the fundamental ontological riddles of our time.”
That’s what is on my mind this morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
- KC's View: