Monday, September 22, 2008

Never, Ever Give Up

There was a feel good story in the San Francisco Chronicle over the weekend about a player that epitomizes our belief that there is no substitute for hard work...Daniel Nava out of St. Francis High School in Mountain View, CA unsuccessfully tried to walk on at Santa Clara University a few years ago, became SCU’s team manager and eventually played at a local JC, the College of San Mateo. He became so good at the JC level, that he returned to Santa Clara on scholarship and won the West Coast Conference batting title. Yet, despite his success at a respectable D-I school that plays a challenging schedule, he went undrafted. Undaunted, he went on to play for Chico in the Independent Golden Baseball League, signed with the Red Sox last October and was assigned to Class A Lancaster, where he just won the California League batting title this year with a .341 average.

Now we don’t know what the future holds for this 5’10” 200lb. young man, but time and time again he was confronted by adversity and each time worked like a mad man to overcome his perennial under the radar status. Other players like Dustin Pedroia and David Eckstein are other players that don’t fit the typical physical mold that scouts seem to want, yet worked harder than everyone around them to get the chance to show the baseball world what they can do...and boy, did they.

Baseball is hard enough, but the harder a player works, the easier the road to success in many cases. Talent will take ball players a long way, but hard work is the greatest supplement of all and it always has befuddled us as to why more and more ball players with tremendous athletic talent don’t give the game that extra effort, rather on relying on their natural athleticism to get them through the day.

For every Daniel Nava, there’s that 5 tool player that everyone thinks is a “can’t miss” that starts to believe his own hype and gets a bit too complacent. While everyone around him is revving up their internal engines to make an impact, this player is on cruise control, and before long, he becomes just one of the guys.

Now imagine if that 5 tool player had the same attitude as Nava or Pedroia? Well, you’d get Pujols, A-Rod and Jeter. Those guys are perfect examples of highly sought after athletes that wanted more and achieved super star status. They are never satisfied with the status quo. They are constantly raising their own bar, with each and every personal milestone they pass. They work harder than everyone else around them plain and simple.

Their talent alone was just a vehicle to take them on a much longer journey. The fuel they need to continue their quest is an unprecedented work ethic. And the end of the road won’t end for them until the day they are introduced at the steps of Cooperstown and are given that plaque in the Hall of Fame.

Yes, we may sound like a broken record with our constant rants on work ethic, but if there are players out there reading this, please take this information seriously. We have seen our share of surprises and disappointments. Experience can be the world’s best teacher, no matter what side of success and failure a person is on. Our experience tell us that the best way to avoid disappointment or failure, no matter what the skill level of any player is to have the mindset to work harder than anyone around them. Even if a player doesn’t achieve their ultimate goal, the discipline he programmed into his daily routine will continue to play dividends for the rest of their lives.

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