Monday Motivator: Brett Phillips - Tampa Bay Rays
“How can you not be romantic about baseball”
~Brad Pitt (as Billy Beane in the movie Moneyball)
I am a ‘baseball guy’. Have been for my whole life. Thinking back to my childhood, I fondly recall those sandlot days playing out the final moments of the World Series from the batter’s box or pitching mound. Whatever the sport, or stage, many of us have played the hero in our own fantasies. This weekend was an opportunity to see someone live that out. A young journey man (thus far) ball player by the name of Brett Phillips, playing for his hometown team was the improbable hero in Game 4 of the World Series as he provided the clutch game-winning hit in the bottom of the 9th inning.
The story becomes even more compelling when you factor in that Brett hadn’t had a hit since September, and was actually cut from the Rays American League Championship Series roster to make room for pitching. Until this point, Brett had never had a post-season hit in his career and only had three hits to show on the back of his baseball card as a Ray. Now, staring at one of the game's best closing pitchers with two outs and the game on the line, a relative unknown was called upon to perform in the most stress inducing situation in all of baseball. The scenario setup so perfectly for poetics that you could feel the collective audience move to the edge of their seat.
Brett was expected to be a ‘role’ player during the playoffs who could provide defensive support or speed on the bases when call upon, but his bat was not an anticipated part of the Manager’s plan. I can only imagine the thoughts running through Phillips’ head when Ray’s skip, Kevin Cash, locked eyes with him and said, ‘Grab a bat, you’re going in’. The emotions that are laid bare when you have the opportunity to live out of your childhood dream must be overwhelming. Overwhelming enough, in fact, to require Brett to get an IV after delivering his walk-off hit in order to get his heart rate down.
The calamity of events sparked by Brett’s hit leads to questions of destiny, but I digress, it all serves to make the moment even more special (see the clip below).
I’m sure this moment provides a lot of life and business lessons ranging from the value of preparation to the importance of managerial decisions. With that said, witnessing that rare moment of someone stepping from obscurity into to infamy at the pinnacle of their profession is so profound that I don't want to blur the moment with a message. Brett sums it up perfectly in a post-game interview, “Man, baseball is fun”.
Baseball is a great game for those with short memories as game 5 is already in the books and the World Series Champs will be crowned at the latest by this Wednesday (or potentially into the wee hours of Thursday morning), but this particular moment is one that will be etched onto the marble slab of World Series lore to be reminisced upon for years to come.
How can you not be romantic about baseball?