Saturday, October 11, 2014


When a marathon runner trains for a race in the fall, the training starts at the beginning of the summer and on through the middle of the fall.  Marathon runners run through heat, humidity, wind and rain. They run in all terrains- trails, sand, asphalt, boards and treadmills.  They run because they find a way to keep going.

Last week I had the opportunity to hear psychologist and University of Pennsylvania Professor Dr. Angela Duckworth speak to educators at a convention in Washington D.C.  Her talk and research centers on grit and self control and how the two predict success in life.

"Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it's a marathon, not a sprint," stated Duckworth in a recent Ted Talk.

As I listened to Duckworth speak, I reflected on the days previous- the days I spent with Derek Jeter. After the shock and awe of his dramatic retirement, it came down to one thing: "how will the Yankees find ways to keep winning after Jeter?"  

The St. Louis Cardinals certainly found a way to win against the possible Cy Young Award and MVP winning pitcher, Clayton Kershaw.  According to Alexis Garcia, in her piece earlier this week CARDINALS BEAT MATTINGLY & THE DODGERS,  "Credit is also due to the Cardinals who just find a way to win. This is their fourth trip in four years to the NLDS and is manager Mike Matheny’s third NLDS appearance in a row since taking over for Tony LaRussa in 2012."  

I feel like this was our team in the late '90s and early 2000s under the then rookie Derek Jeter.  Some how we lost that luster, or perhaps grit.  Or maybe it's the chemistry of the now New York Yankee team who just doesn't have grit in the majority of players.  I will tell you who appears to have grit.  Brett Gardner, Chase Headley, Ichiro Suzuki, Dellin Betances and David Phelps all have grit, but for the rest of them, not so much.  So what does that mean?  Well in the words of Duckworth, it means that "we need to be gritty about getting our kids grittier."  Or we need to be gritty about getting our players grittier.  And that means, grit needs to outweigh lackluster on our 2015 team.  

I am not pleased that Brian Cashman was signed to three more years as General Manager, but I am happy that Kevin Long is gone and I am hopeful that Larry Rothchild is on his way out the door too. See if our management doesn't have perseverance and grit how can we expect our players to have it?  "Grit equips individuals to pursue especially challenging aims over years and even decades," states Duckworth.  I could not agree more.  I don't see that kind of mindset in management.

And when it comes to teams winning, they have to have the gritty make up of players to do the job, year after year.  Look at the teams that have been kicking around in the win column over the last several years, who just find a way to win.  Teams like the San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, Detroit Tigers certainly have grit. Up and coming teams like the Kansas City Royals and the Baltimore Orioles have grit.  In particular, I would like to highlight the Royals who have shown me so much in the way of determination and hard work.  To come this far from facing elimination at the end of the season, to winning the Wild Card game and then putting the Los Angeles Angels in their place, I have to say, "Wow!"  Their outfield is stellar and the energy just exudes winning.  

So how can the Yankees find a way to win again and be consistent like they were in the early Jeter years?  It's team make up, it's team mindset and it's grit.  So when our GM goes shopping this year, I hope grit is on the top of his list, so we can win again.

--Suzie Pinstripe, BYB Senior Staff Writer
Twitter: @suzieprof


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