Today is Father’s Day, and I had a wonderful day with my wife and daughters. My kids made me breakfast in bed (homemade waffles with a banana/peanut butter compote), we went to visit my Father-in-Law in Queens, NY (it’s very rare that all four of us get to see him together), and then my wife and kids brought me to a Mets game. I have been a Mets fan as long as I can remember – pretty much from the 1973 World Series team on. I don’t go to watch too many games live (maybe 2-3 games a year) and the main reason is I have *never* seen them win when I go to the game. That is the reason I don’t have any Mets clothing – I’ve always said I’ll buy something when I see them win a game live.
Well, the time has finally come. After a very lackluster (and somewhat sloppy) 8 1/2 innings, the Mets were down 3-0 and we were just waiting for them to get their last 3 outs so we could work our way home. Then Marlon Byrd his a solo home run, and it’s 3-1. Lucas Duda walks and John Buck singles – his first hit of the game. Runners on 1st and 2nd, no outs. A sacrifice bunt moves both players over to 2nd and 3rd. And then Kirk Nieuwenhuis – who is batting .097 for the year – gets up and cracks a LONG home run to right field…. Mets WIN! 4-3. A walk off home run to win the game in the ninth!
What an amazing feeling. I had never seen them win live – and to see them win like THIS – a walk off home run – the team mobbing Kirk at home plate – the pie in the face, the whole deal. Everybody was in a great mood – as we walked back to the car, people were yelling, honking horns, waving.
We get home and my daughter and I went for a run – and on the run I start thinking about the game – about how we feel about the Mets overall this season (pretty awful) and how we felt today after the game (pretty psyched). Then (of course!) I started thinking about how this relates to start-ups. I wrote a few weeks ago about Hit Singles – that I’ve always felt it’s better to hit singles and get a few runs over the plate than to always swing for the fences. How did I feel now that I saw a 3-run home run instantly change everybody’s mood at today’s game, and finally get me my long-awaited Mets t-shirt?
It really didn’t change my opinion at all. The Mets are still a very bad team – today’s win notwithstanding. And, frankly, their backs were up against the wall today, they waited pretty much as long as they could do actually start producing. They had done NOTHING for 8 innings. Then they had one big surge and they can live off that happy feeling for one day. Tomorrow they start all over. But their offense is still horrible, they have big pitching and defensive holes to fill, and they are wildly inconsistent.
This strikes me as the same attributes of a struggling startup. Companies that are waiting for somebody to get up and hit a 3-run homer to salvage the quarter/year. There is a feeling of euphoria for that deal, everybody pats everybody on the back and we all feel great. Then we get up tomorrow and all the same issues await us – the lack of pipeline, the limited marketing, the product that doesn’t have the core features the salespeople say the customers want.
One of my favorite baseball people of all time was Casey Stengel – he managed the Mets for a short time when I was too young to really appreciate him. He loved small ball – hitting a bunt single, stealing bases, sacrificing runners over – basically doing whatever necessary to score 1 run *every* inning. If you could do that, you win pretty much every time you go out to play. It’s scrappy and fun. It’s consistent. It’s not sexy at all. And you ultimately win a lot more often than you lose. So, while today was an amazing day in pretty much every way, I’m still going to hope the Mets figure out how to field a team that can play and win consistently, and that doesn’t mean looking for a hero in the 9th inning every game. That is not a game winners play.
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