I am in London during the baseball playoffs so this means I did not get to attend the final Ranger game of the season as they lost to the Orioles. I stayed up until 2am and listened until 4am but feel asleep around the 7th inning. Frankly, I saw what was coming and I couldn’t stand to stay awake for the heartbreak. Yet, when I woke up to reports of fans booing Josh Hamilton I was very disappointed in our fans, to a point of disgust. It reminded me of this excerpt from my book, 22 Success Lessons from Baseball
Nothing To Forgive
This one is for Mitch Williams, Bill Buckner, Ralph Branca, Donnie Moore and every Cub since World War II. It’s for the ’64 Phillies, the ’78 Red Sox and the ’87 Blue Jays. It’s for all the players who attempted great things and fell short. It’s for those who risked failure and dared to appear inept, clumsy and foolish. It’s for every “goat” who accomplished more than 99.9% of those in their field and are chided as failures.
The ‘Wild Thing’ Mitch Williams trotted in from the bullpen to shutdown the Toronto Blue Jays and seal the World Series victory for the Phillies. Instead, he served up the game winning home run to Joe and broke the hearts of everyone in Philadelphia. Williams received death threats. Bill Buckner failed to stop a ball from rolling through his legs in 1986 and will forever be remembered as the man who squandered Boston’s World Series dreams. Bill was asked if he considered suicide after his error. What kind of person asks this question? As far-fetched as that question sounds, Donnie Moore did commit suicide.
Donnie Moore was the California Angels pitcher who gave up the game winning home run to Dave Henderson in the 1986 American League playoffs that allowed Boston to advance to the World Series. He had a two-strike count on Henderson and was one pitch away from the victory and the Series when he threw that final pitch. No one will be able to prove that this episode is what led Moore to shoot his wife and then himself. Although, those that know him best say that was the catalyst. The beginning of the end.
‘Ever since he gave up the home run…he was never himself again’, said Dave Pinter, Moore’s agent for twelve years. He blamed himself for the Angels not going to the World Series. He constantly talked about the Henderson home run…I tried to get him to go to a psychiatrist. But he said, ‘I don’t need it…I’ll get over it.’ ‘…that home-run killed him.’The former Angel, Brian Downing, echoed the sentiment by simply saying, ‘you destroyed a man’s life over one pitch.’
If we were honest with ourselves, we would admit that we are not on the field with these men because they have talents, skills and abilities that we don’t have. That they are there because they have a discipline that we don’t have and that they are willing to risk failure for the small chance of great success. Yet, we chide and harass them for their failure as if they have disgraced our team, city and families. When in reality, they are the best of the best. If there is a beginning there is an end. If there is a winner there must be a loser. It’s as simple as that. Although, all too often, we stand indignant, unrelenting and unforgiving.
Let me say it once and for all. Bill Buckner, Donnie Moore, Mitch Williams, Johnny Pesky, Tom Niedenfuer and every other unfairly criticized player, the reason that we don’t forgive you is that there is nothing to forgive. Nothing at all. You dared to stand in the arena. You dared to stand in the winner’s circle in the midst of grand circumstances and fell short because someone had to.
What prompts a person to be critical of another? Is this admonishing intended for good or is it vindictive? The kind of criticism that finds its origins in an effort to belittle another person because of their failure only brings an unwelcome light to the dark closet of their own insecurity.
The men and women who risk and fail are indeed far better off than those who stand outside of the fire. Herman Melville said, “He who has never failed somewhere, that man cannot be great.” The man who sits in the stands of life will be sentenced to an existence of unrealized dreams. The individual who dares to suit up and then fails, has already succeeded.
Teddy Roosevelt tells us that the true failure is “The cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” Thank you for knowing defeat. Thank you for risking. No, you are not forgiven. There is nothing to forgive.
End of excerpt
So to all those who are boing Josh Hamilton, I don’t blame him for one minute and his quote about shaking the dust of a town off his feet is 100% ok by me. (Although I would hate to see a Ranger team without Josh)