The Kansas City Royals won the World Series.
The Kansas City Royals are World Champs.
The Kansas City Royals took the crown.
(Insert an insane amount of hashtags about the #Royals and being #ForeverRoyal)
I still can’t believe those statements are true. It’s like we’ve been living in a dream for the past few days, and we haven’t woken up yet. For the Royals fans in this household, we’ve been waiting for this moment, well, for a lifetime. And oh how sweet it is. Let’s all just sit here for a moment and take it all in. What a season. What a team. I think something that speaks volumes to what this means to us as a collective city (yes I’m including the suburbs as part of the “city”) is that several area school districts canceled school today for the celebration parade and pep rally in downtown KCMO. How special for those that were able to attend! Needless to say, our city is electric with Royals fever right now.
(A fun side story – today at daycare, my 2 1/2 year old was supposed to be napping. One of the teachers was sitting on the couch watching the parade, when she heard a tiny little voice break into the “Let’s Go Royals!” cheer. So, the teacher went to get her from her napping spot, and my little one got to watch the parade in lieu of a nap today. She won’t remember that, but I will.)
So why am I writing about this championship team in my school blog? It’s easy – this team exudes qualities of what it takes to be successful, so I want to talk about a few of them.
Let’s start with the obvious. These Kansas City Royals are resilient.
Able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult situations
Here’s a fun fact to get us started:
Let’s walk through some of the most notable comebacks of the postseason. We’re going to start with the game where we had a 1% chance to win. Let’s go all the way back to the ALDS Game 4 against a very solid Houston Astros team, and we were facing elimination. If we lost, we were done. We were losing 3-2 going into the bottom of the 7th inning (did I mention we were in Houston?). The Astros then knocked in three runs off of two home runs to extend their lead to 6-2 in the 7th inning. It was looking dismal at best. The very next inning, something special happened. We kicked, clawed, scratched our way back into the game, and scored 5 runs off of 5 hits. (Sometime I’ll have to tell you about my crazy superstitions during post season baseball. Let’s just say once we scored the first run of the 8th inning, I was sitting in my car in a parking lot listening to the radio for approximately 45 minutes.) We ended up winning the game, forcing a Game 5, which we won in a come from behind fashion as well to move on to the American League Championship Series.
Fast forward a bit to Game 2 of the ALCS against a very, very good Toronto team. We were losing by 3 going into the 7th inning. And then it happened. Again. The comeback kids scored 5 runs in the 7th inning, which would end up being enough to win the game before the series went across the border to Canada. (I was at Power and Light for this game – you want to talk about a place that went from semi depressed to electric in the blink of an eye?!) Anyway, point is – we were in a tough spot, and we found a way out of it.
We can’t talk about epic comebacks without talking about Game 1 of the World Series. Fourteen innings of pure stress and excitement rolled into one baseball game. (Side note: The post season really has an effect on my sleep – I was running on fumes the next day, like most of Kansas City.) Anyway, the Royals were losing going into the bottom of the 9th inning. We were up against Familia, the Mets’ closer who was known for getting the job done, and who had been solid all throughout the postseason. Then Alex Gordon (my favorite Royal) steps up to the plate and BLASTS one out of the park. All of a sudden we’re in extra innings, and in the bottom of the 14th, Hosmer hits a walk off sacrifice fly ball. Royals win, beating the odds.
The last one we will talk about is the game that clinched the World Series. The Mets’ pitcher had pitched LIGHTS OUT all game. “The Dark Knight” (Matt Harvey) was shutting us down. It looked inevitable that the series would return to Kansas City for a game 6. We were losing 2-0 in the ninth! The ninth! Then out of nowhere, the Mets make a mistake or two, we capitalize on it, take some risks, and tie the game. We force extra innings, and end up taking the series on a 7-2 win in twelve innings (Thank you Christian Colon!). Is that incredible or is it incredible?
Here’s the deal. When faced with tough situations, the boys don’t give up. They don’t throw in the towel. Even with the odds were COMPLETELY against them – they keep at it. They scored more runs in the 7th inning or later than any other team in history in the postseason:
If you listen to any interviews by the Royals about their ability to come back, they’ll all give you a similar message – we know how to play when our backs are against the wall. We know how to handle tough situations. We know how to work through adversity. We stay focused on the task at hand, and we find a way to get it done. No excuses. We just get it done. We believe in ourselves. We believe in our teammates. There’s no pouting or complaining – we have a job to do, so we do it.
Take away the context of baseball for a second, and replace it with the context of school, teaching, and learning. Isn’t this what we want of our students? Of our teachers? Of our administrators? Resiliency is a skill. It’s a skill that is taught. Everyone is going to face hard situations in life. How do you handle that hard situation? You’d be well advised to take a lesson from our Boys in Blue.
Let’s now re-visit Game 5 of the World Series. You know the one. Yeah, the one where we WON THE WORLD SERIES! (Sorry, it’s still pretty fresh.) Remember, we were losing 2-0 going into the ninth inning. We scored 1 run to close the lead to 2-1, and then Eric Hosmer was at 3rd base. Salvador Perez was up to bat.
There’s a ground ball hit to the left side. Third baseman David Wright fields the ball. He checks Hosmer at 3rd, then makes the throw to first. AS SOON AS Wright throws the ball, Hosmer breaks for home. Lucas Duda (Mets first baseman) makes a throw home, but it’s off the mark, Hosmer scores, tying up the game.
This was a huge risk for Hosmer to take. With a good throw, there’s a high possibility that he would have been out, and the game would have been over. But, his gut told him to take the risk, he did, and it paid off… big time. Without that risk, it’s very possible we don’t score again that inning, and the Met’s force a game 6. You see, for Hosmer, the possibility of tying the game in the bottom of the ninth outweighed the “safe choice” by a landslide.
There can be no great accomplishment without risk. – Neil Armstrong
So it is too, in education. We are always faced with new challenges. New obstacles. New expectations. Sometimes, embracing all the “new” comes with a huge risk. The risk and fear of the unknown. Did Hosmer know he was going to be safe? Absolutely not. Do you know as an educator if trying something new is going to work like you envision? No, we don’t always have that foresight. But hopefully that doesn’t stop us from trying. Hopefully, we can see that the benefits of engaging more students and trying something new and innovative outweighs the safe choice of “this is how I’ve always done it, and it’s just fine the way it is.” Great teachers take risks to try new things to make their classrooms student-centered, rigorous, and, well, fun.
If you look at any of these come from behind wins, you can probably point out at least one mistake that our boys made that led us to the aforementioned deficit. Here’s another thing that’s special about our team: They rally behind each other. When someone is having a rough outing, they let them know “Hey man, we got you.” For example, when Ryan Madson gave up the 3 runs to the Astros in game 4 of the ALDS (remember, Royals were facing elimination), his teammates came up to him and said, “We got you. Don’t worry. It’s not ending like this.” When three of our players lost parents during the season, their teammates picked them up, supported them, and helped them through a hard time. These guys go past your typical “teammate” relationship. They have entered into what seems to be a brotherhood of sorts. A special bond that they’ll always share.
How important is it in education for us to do the same for one another? Collaboration is key to fostering a growth mindset among our teachers. We can support one another, learn from one another, pick each other up, help each other out – we are a family. Just like the Royals had one goal that united them and made them fight together to keep the line moving, so do we as educators. Our goal is student success. If we can support each other to accomplish and achieve our goal, we are one step closer to being Royally successful.
The spirit this team has is contagious. You can feel it throughout the entire city. We have some great guys in the clubhouse. (Gordon and Zobrist – please, pretty please, stay!!) I think we can all learn some valuable lessons from this team and apply them to our every day lives – but hey – that’s what sports can do for you in general. This just happens to be a special group of guys doing remarkable things. Thank you, Royals, for an incredible season. Teachers and school leaders, my question to you is:
What can you do to foster the same type of spirit in your school with your students and your staff?
As always, I thank you for reading my thoughts. I always enjoy reading yours, so please feel free to comment below! I’ll leave you with one more thing before we part ways: