The Tigers have taken a beating in the national media this week and I don’t remember the last time analysts have shaken their collective heads so universally.
Was it because of their shoddy defense? No. The lack of offense? Not that either. The bullpen? Unbelievably, not even that (although it did get several honorable mentions).
It’s due to all of the excuses. Excuses meant to deflect blame and responsibility for their play. Excuses that are used on a daily basis after every game. And nothing was too silly to mention.
– The Indians stealing signs but only from 1 pitcher.
– A pitcher who claimed the air was so cold and dry that he couldn’t properly grip the ball, but the opposing pitcher had no problems.
– The domed ceiling blamed for outfield misplays but selective in the players involved.
– The bouncy new turf used to explain balls bouncing over the head of only one player.
– The reliever who gained a significant amount of weight in a suspiciously short amount of time and on someone else’s watch.
– Fans yelling “I got it!” and players who thought it was their nearby teammate. (And if you believe that one, then Houston, we’ve got a real problem.)
And my perennial favorite:
– A team that uses “due to injuries” at the end of every year to explain the annual October disappointment.
Aren’t you tired of hearing all of this? I am.
The fact is that most of the team, as well as management, uses excuses to justify poor performance. You can literally count the ones who take full responsibility on one hand. One of them was just given his walking papers so now we’re down to 4.
And then there’s Terry Francona. After losing a number of crucial players last year, and then losing his first World Series ever, said this:
“We had injuries. We had you name it, and not once did we use it as an excuse.”
Do you think that Tito and his team would have gone all the way to the World Series if he allowed the excuse mindset to plant roots among the players? You already know the answer.
The fact is that when you are allowed to push the excuse button, you have a ready-made “out.” When you can blame someone or something, the desire to push yourself to take chances at being the very best is a little less. You now have something to use to explain away performance that is not your best. Your fear of failure now has an override mode.
And when you use excuses regularly, they only reinforce self-defeating patterns of thought that keep you from achieving your desired highest level of success.
Like playoffs. A World Series. A ring.
This brings me to mention another guy from Detroit. He never played baseball but the Tigers would be wise to read his book Excuses Begone!: How to Change Lifelong, Self-Defeating Thinking Habits. It is about how using and hanging onto excuses keeps you from fulfilling your dreams and relegates you to a life in which your top goals are never realized.
His name, of course, is Dr. Wayne Dyer. Professor, counselor, coach, writer and motivational speaker. He knew what he was talking about. And a number of baseball teams do have his books on their required reading list. I’m pretty sure the Tigers aren’t one of them.
And maybe the reason why is due to their corporate culture. It may not matter how talented your players are or how much money you spend if those in charge allow excuses to be a valid rationale for performance instead of enforcing accountability and changing mindsets.
A change in the corporate culture is sorely needed. But it never comes from the people associated with the old one. It has to come from an outsider who is brought in. Someone at the top who sets the tone and makes sure it trickles down. A new President. Even a new owner. Time will tell whether Chris Ilitch is that guy.