How to win and lose gracefully

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Terry Francona

I still can’t stop thinking about that World Series. It was surely one of the best in memory. Hard fought, civil and respectful — unlike that other battle that’s been going on that has its seventh game tomorrow.

The Cubs were all but finished. Down three games to one, and Cleveland only had to win one of the next three games to be the champs, two of which would be played at home where they had won almost twice as many games as they lost (53-28). And the Cubbies took it down to a game seven, and that turned out to be almost a whole series in one game. The Cubs went into the eighth inning up 6-3 with their un-hittable flame-throwing closer waiting to shut the door on the Indians. And lo and behold, Cleveland scored three runs to tie the game. It was fitting that these two teams, so evenly matched, so equally passionate about winning, would go into the ninth inning of game seven tied 6-6. “Inconceivable,” as the Sicilian in The Princess Bride kept saying as the Dread Pirate Roberts gained on them through the foggy mist. “Inconceivable.”

One of the Cubs players said afterwards that they had the “Rocky” theme song playing in the locker room for the last three games. And that was fitting, for by that last inning, you had a picture of Rocky and his opponent both beaten and battered to where they can barely see, but they’re still going, falling into repeated embraces because that’s the only way they can keep standing, swinging harmless jabs to the body as they hold each other up.

So the Cubs managed two runs in the top of the tenth, and it’s still not over because the Indians scored one run in the bottom of the inning to keep hope alive and make it 8-7. The game finally ended, with the tying run on base.

In an interview afterward, Terry Francona, manager of the Cleveland Indians, said that it was an honor to be a part of this team. He had told them in the clubhouse, “Play the game with respect, and leave it all on the field,” which is exactly what they did.

Would that our politicians could be so honorable. The ballplayers set a good example for them — how to both win and lose gracefully. And now if only we could all follow. “Play the game with respect, and leave it all on the field.” When you leave it all on the field, you walk off friends. That’s what sports are for — to give us an entertaining break from the harshness of reality, and in its finest moments, like this one, to give us an example of respect, determination and good sportsmanship.

I know it’s tough now for all you baseball fans to close the book on a great season, but take heart, it’s only 98 days until catchers and pitchers report for spring training. Better get your tickets early. (Marti is growing nauseated.)

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2 Responses to How to win and lose gracefully

  1. DB says:

    “Would that our politicians could be so honorable. The ballplayers set a good example for them — how to both win and lose gracefully.”

    Will it be Clinton or Trump who wins gracefully?
    Depending on who wins, will the loser lose gracefully?

    Today CNN’s Dana Bash said she wonders why Trump picked “You can’t always get what you want” to be his closing song at all his rallies.

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