How To Lose and Be a Winner

“You know, we ask our players to play the game with respect and to leave it on the field. That was it, they gave everything they had. And I kind of talked about it before the game, what an honor it was, but it really is. To go through that with this group and these people, it was an honor.” 

“The (Cubs are) a good team, and they keep coming at you. I mean, that was tough for them. We tied that — lot of teams might fold, they didn’t. But we didn’t either. We just ran out of time. It hurts. It hurts because we care so much. But I still want our guys to carry their heads high because they deserve to do that.”

“We met for a minute. I mean, they know how we feel. But I just wanted to thank them for me and the coaches, because, like I was telling you, it’s an honor to go through something like this with this group, and we don’t take it lightly. And we appreciate it and we care. I just thought they deserved to hear that.”

These are some of the comments after Terry Francona and the Cleveland Indians just lost one of the most epic World Series in Major League Baseball history.  It was a heartbreaking loss for a guy, who personally, had never lost a World Series game, let alone a series.  In the interview, you can see the emotion behind his words.  This is a very raw moment for this man.  

In his vulnerability, I gained a lot of respect.  He could have done the immature thing, and avoided the interview or gave short answers and walked away.  He didn't.  He hung in there.  He showed his heart when many would not.  (Right Cam Newton?)  I think we all could learn a thing or two from Francona.  

Did you notice how he showed great respect and admiration to the players on his team?  He could have begun ripping the players that didn't get it done or began to point out errors, physical or mental that played out to lead to the loss.  Nope.  He wasn't going there.  Instead he pointed out how proud he was that his players never gave up.  They gave their all and kept playing with honor and respect.  That part of humanity obviously isn't rewarded with achieving goals or success, but it was the most important thing to him at that time.  How often do we recognize the journey aspect of our lives?  Do we appreciate those along for the ride more than reaching the destination?  

He could have easily short changed the Cubs, but didn't.  Its easy to say things like "We let that one get away." or "We were the better team, we just didn't get the same breaks..."  In fact, you hear stuff like that from time to time from people and coaches.  He gave respect to the other team.  They deserved it.  He pointed out their mental toughness in what was a very difficult series.  He knew that by giving the other guy props, he wasn't taking away from his own team.  Saying something good about another doesn't mean you have to take away from yourself.  

He cares.  He really cares.  He cares about the people.  The loss, the game, the World Series, and everything else was secondary to the bond and connection he had with other people.  Is he sad they lost?  Yes, but not because they lost.  He is sad because he cares so much about the people that he feels badly that they couldn't reach their goal.  When he says it was an "honor to go through something like that", you can see it is about the relationships they have created.

What tells more about Francona is written in the words he did not say.  He didn't spout words of "This is not My World Champion!" or threaten to leave baseball.  Nope.  He loves the game too much.  He loves the players and coaches too much. He loves the relationships and the journey too much.  The days of taking your ball and going home because things didn't work out the way he would have liked left Francona when he was probably 4 or 5 years old.  I can give you a pretty certain guarantee that Francona will be spending the next few months working through his emotions, enjoying his family, and ultimately getting back to work.  

Francona, like many others, has shown that even though he lost, he'll always be a winner.