world series 2014 san francisco giants kansas city royals quintessential leaderI’ll get this out of the way up front. If I watch a baseball team play an entire game (which is rare because I don’t often want to give up three or more hours of my life to something that, in the end, doesn’t move me forward in some way in the rest of my life) during the regular baseball season, that team is the New York Yankees.

Although I grew up in the South, my dad – who grew up listening to Yankees baseball games on the radio in Burlington, NC – was a Yankees fan and he passed that on to me. The things I loved about watching Yankees’ games with my dad when I was a kid was to see how much he enjoyed and knew about the game and how much he enjoyed sharing that with his family.

After Daddy died, I let baseball pretty much slip away from my active radar because it just didn’t hold any appeal without him to watch it with. Now I’m an extremely passive Yankees fan. I might catch an inning or two a couple of times a year – although I occasionally check their standings throughout the season – but that’s most of the extent of my baseball consumption these days.

However, during the World Series each year, no matter who is playing, I try to watch at least a couple of innings of each game until a clear winner emerges because I want to see what it was that got those teams there that year.


Because beyond the exceptional skills of a few players on each team, there has to be leadership and teamwork to get all of the players and coaches synced up enough over the course of the season to play the kind of baseball that consistently makes its way successfully through the playoffs to get to the World Series.

Last year, when the Boston Red Sox outperformed the St. Louis Cardinals to win the World Series, there was a distinctive outward manifestation of the team-building that had taken place during the regular season – every Red Sox player grew a beard and none of the players shaved their beards until the World Series was over.

2014 world series jake peavy pitcher quintessential leadershipThere is an interesting link between the 2013 World Series and the 2014 World Series. That link is Jake Peavy, a starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox in 2013 and for the San Francisco Giants in 2014.

The quality of a baseball team’s pitching staff is often a determining factor in how well the team gels together and how far the team extends its season. Starting pitchers are critical in this mix and, while they may not be the official team captains (leaders), they are often the de facto leaders on the field during games.

Peavy had good pitching stats going into his stint with the Red Sox, but after a dismal two-year performance, he was traded to the Giants in 2014. Peavy has not done much better in his first year there, including in the World Series.

And here’s where leadership and team-building and teamwork come into play. No one respects Jake Peavy.

I was very surprised to hear how the sports commentators basically trashed Peavy in the first game he pitched this year against the Kansas City Royals in the World Series.

Supposedly the objective and unbiased presenters of the games, these commentators made it clear that they didn’t expect anything but failure out of Peavy with their disparaging comments from the get-go.

The body language, facial gestures, and actions of the Giants on the field and in the dugout during game 2 and game 6 of this year’s World Series showed the entire team’s – including the coaches and manager – contempt for Peavy when he was pitching.

Although he was the de facto leader on the field, it was clear no one wanted him there and it led to the beginning of the Royals’ rout of the Giants when no one paid any attention to him during a crucial play in last night’s game (game 6).

The crucial play came during Peavy’s disastrous second inning when Peavy was telling Giants first baseman Brandon Belt to throw home and Belt completely ignored him and decided to run down the tag of the Royals Eric Hosmer at first base. Hosmer beat the tag.

In that moment, the lack of leadership, teamwork, and team-building among the Giants organization was crystal clear to me. It replayed in slow motion in my mind as I thought how those few seconds showed me all I needed to see as a quintessential leader to know that Giants don’t have it.

san francisco giants logoOh, the Giants may win the 2014 World Series, because they have a few great hitters and one great pitcher – who may be a clutch reliever tonight if starting pitcher Tim Hudson gets behind in the early innings – who might get lucky enough to pull it off.

kansas city royals logoHowever, the odds favor the Royals, who clearly have leadership, teamwork, and team-building in place. They look like a time, they act like a team, and they play like a team.

It’s taken the Royals 29 years to get another World Series-ready team in place, but the organization carefully and skillfully, over the course of several years (one of last night’s commentators said that professional baseball is different from any other sport in that it takes a lot longer to bring an athlete up to the skill level and capability to play at the professional level), ensured that the leadership, the team-building – individually and collectively – and the teamwork is in place for just such a moment as this.

Based on my experience as someone who strives to practice and continues to grow toward quintessential leadership in every part of who I am and in my life every day, I know that what the Royals have in place – and the Giants don’t have in place – gives the Royals the advantage of being successful.

What about us? You and me. Do we strive to be and work at being quintessential leaders continuously in every part of our lives? Do we even know what it is? Can we recognize it when we see it or don’t see it, no matter where we see it? 

The reality is that if we don’t live, do, and are something 24/7, then it’s not a part of us, of who and what we are. We’re pretenders.

And because we’re pretenders, we don’t know what the real thing looks like and are susceptible to falling for counterfeits and believing they’re the real thing, when it fact they’re not.

To know what quintessential leadership does and doesn’t look like, we must be actively striving to be and practicing quintessential leadership everywhere in our lives, even those areas and places and moments where nobody’s looking (those count more, in many ways, than the ones in which somebody or everybody’s looking).

How are we doing?



  1. Elizabeth says:

    Except you’re forgetting, and since you self admittedly stated you don’t watch Baseball unless it’s the Yankees, THERE WAS NO PLAY AT HOME BASE! Belt could see that. Peavy was so stuck in his head of how he thought things were going to go, that he refused to do HIS job and cover first base. If you want to be a leader, fine. But Leaders don’t make a fool out of themselves by ignoring what’s right in front of them or refusing to make the correct decisions. And you have made a fool out of yourself by commenting on something you know NOTHING about! Preach leadership all you want but no one follows a fool.


    • I’m sorry you feel this way. Calling someone a fool just because you disagree with them is not a very mature perspective. It is not a leadership trait.

      It’s obvious that you didn’t read the post carefully (I know baseball well – I grew up on it – just because I don’t watch it much now doesn’t mean I don’t know the game) and that you missed the big picture point that I was making about teamwork and leadership (the play itself wasn’t the point – the play, however, highlighted the lack of cohesiveness, which is a product of leadership and team-building, the Giants have in general).

      I will not sink to the level of calling you a fool or even foolish. That’s easy. And I know it’s not true. You have a right to your opinion and to disagree. We all do.

      But we also have a responsibility to ensure that we’re not doing so in way that ignores the facts, ignores the point, and tries to tear another person down and put them “in their place.” We lose any credibility, regardless of our opinions and disagreements, when we resort to emotional responses and name-calling.

      Best wishes!


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