Many people will remember Jose Lobaton (above) for one mistake he made last night. It's important not to forget he's human just like the rest of us, and one mistake doesn't define who he is. Coach rant.
Very happy to see the Cubs survive yesterday's battle. I immediately felt bad for Jose Lobaton, who made a costly mistake in the 8th inning that will always be attributed to the Nationals' loss. It was a poor decision at a crucial moment, and I assure you no one is taking it harder than he is.
I was happy for the Cubs, but genuinely I felt terrible for him.
Some of you will always remember him for that mistake, but here's the facts: The only reason he was in a position to do what he did is because he worked his way up to becoming a world-class athlete. Day in and day out, he worked his way up en route to becoming one the best at what he does. Many of the people that turned to social media and turned on him have never been as good at anything as that man is at baseball.
Even more important than that, the man is human - his career is defined by far more than that moment.
As an athlete, I can remember those tragic moments in my career. The first one was in 5th grade when we lost to St. Matthew in basketball, and I was scrambling to get to a loose ball in the final minute of the game down by a basket only to kick it out of bounds to seal our fate. I remember going to a quiet part of the building once we could get away from our team, slumped to the ground, and balled my eyes out, feeling like I let my team down.
I remember senior night of my high school career, having a terrible match and after it was evident I wasn't going to turn it around, my coach pulled me more out of mercy than frustration. Towel draped over my head, embarrassed to look at my teammates because I felt I let them down.
There were matches where my college team put me in an opportunity to succeed, and through no lack of effort, I found a way NOT to make the play - back to back stuff blocks to lose to Endicott, Launching a routine overpass out of bounds to seal a 33-35 loss to Elms en route to losing the ECAC championship. There are plenty more, but you get the point: Some of those instances are over ten (OK - even twenty) years old, and they still resonate with me to this day.
As coaches, most of us know the 'cardinal rules' of our sports: The things that 'YOU JUST CAN'T DO'. But guess what? We do them. It happens. I guarantee you that cardinal rule flashed before his eyes the moment he saw the ump overturn the call sealing his fate. He knew the same thing the rest of us knew.
The people that disappointed me most in their reactions are the coaches that say "I WOULD HAVE LOST IT IF I WERE COACHING". Because if you've created the right culture, those players are your family. And again, the guy knew he screwed up. I PROMISE you he wouldn't have made it to the big leagues had he not known it was the wrong thing to do.
As a coach, bad plays don't happen to YOU. They happen to your athletes. And I don't know a single athlete that enjoys screwing up or letting their teams down. It's easy for everyone to be there for their players when they're performing well, but the special coaches are the ones that know how to pick their players up or get them to bounce back after moments like that.
That's the reason I love coaches like Popovich, Kerr, and Maddon - those guys understand that GREAT players make BIG mistakes. They know how to push their athletes to be great while recognizing that they're human. And when the rest of us are losing our minds over decisions that have negative results because as fans we get caught up in how their mistakes affect us, they simply move forward and focus on what they can still control, all while making sure their players know that they've got their back.
Sports can be an important reminder that everyone makes mistakes. For many young athletes, sports are their first way to experience what 'failure' feels like. And if handled properly, it can instill life lessons that go well beyond athletics and equip them to better handle the adversity that life will inevitably throw their way. I genuinely feel bad for those that are on the other end of the spectrum and miss out on all the lessons because all their coaches/parents/peers focus on is the end result.
Whether you're a coach, player, or fan, try not to forget your own shortcomings. Just remember that we all have them, and when people fall short, as bad as you think it makes you feel, they're probably feeling a lot worse.