Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Blackhawks, Bruins and Conflicts

It wasn't that long ago that I declared, after the Hartford Whalers stole any joy that I derived from hockey, that the Chicago Blackhawks were going to be my favorite team.  But that was back in 2011, and I have to admit that I have not really been keeping up with the Blackhawks since then (Before the Stanley Cup Finals I could only name Kane and Hossa as Blackhawks); I have been content letting hockey disappear from my life.

And I took this tact for the first 5 games of the epic Blackhawks-Bruins Finals.   I didn't really care that much, only watching snippets of highlights if I happened to catch them on Sportscenter the next day.  Meanwhile friends have been up in arms about this series, even more so than back in 2011, when I didn't care that much then. But now, after Game 5 in which I was forced to watch the game with Bruins fans, I am now interested in this series.  I'm not going to be rooting for the Bruins, mind you.  You gotta be kidding me.  But I will root for an exciting game.

To get me into the series, G has been secretly whispering to me "Here we go Blackhawks."  He likes the Whalers even though he was born 7 years after they left Hartford.  While I laughed with him, DLG and C looked at me with serious looks.  Neither of them like hockey (probably because of me) and didn't like the inside jokes.

In the aftermath...

I started writing about the game.  I went period by period hoping for an epic collision between two long time teams.  I laughed at Jaromir Jagr and wondered if Patrice Bergeron was really hurt.  And then the last 90 seconds of the Third Period happened and I deleted all of that.  It just made me nostalgic for some good hockey in the Nutmeg State and I was not going to go there.

So I erased that recap.  Instead, I simply say "Nice job.  Good effort." 

Time for baseball anyway.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Vince Lombardi By the Quotes - A Message

"You are a confident person and with the right tools, the right attitude and the right focus, you can do anything you want and succeed." 

Sounds like Vince Lombardi, right?  But its actually me channeling Lombardi with my message to you.  In honor of Lombardi's 100th birthday celebration on June 11, I have compiled a list of my favorite Vince Lombardi quotes for you.  Now I have never seen Lombardi's sales movie from the 1960's - and trying to buy the DVD now will run over $1,000.00 - but my favorite Lombardi quotes really have nothing to do with football.  They apply to everything you do.  The roots might be sports-related, but winning, confidence and internal strength have applications in everything you do - on and off the field.

“If it doesn’t matter who wins or loses, then why do they keep score?"

My favorite quote.  Kids always look at me and cheer when I say that.  Now the baseball league we belong to dictates that winning doesn't matter, everyone makes the playoffs and everyone should play every position.  I agree that everyone should try every position, but winning and losing is very important, because if you lose every game, yeah you make the playoffs, but the kids are demoralized and you end up facing the team with the two best players in the league.  The result -you get your butts kicked.  How is all of this good for your confidence?  What good habits do you form from this?  If a score is kept, you have to try your hardest to win because that will lead you to practice the good habits that will allow you to succeed.  If a score is not being kept, then you have to relax.  Once you realize the difference, you can have fun and be successful. 

"Winning is not a sometime thing…it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while…you don’t do the right thing once in a while…you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit."

Winning takes a lot of forms.  It might be winning on the field or on the court when you look at the score board.  What I think this means though is that to be successful, you have to try your hardest and practice everything you do to get into good habits - because good habits only lead to success and good things.  I could be in sports, definitely.  But this also means winning in school and at work.  If winning at a pursuit becomes a habit, it's a tough habit to break.  

“Confidence is contagious and so is lack of confidence, and a customer will recognize both.”

Clearly a quote from the Lombardi sales movie referred to above.  But it applies everywhere you turn in life.  You are trying to win in everything you do.  It might not be a win in the conventional way, but it s a chance to succeed.  Maybe its sports, but its more likely in school and at the workplace.  If you are confident (or you lack confidence), it will be recognized and remembered.  You can succeed in life if you believe in yourself.  But just as easily, you can fail if you don't believe in yourself.  

“The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.”

One of the worst things that you can do is to quit.  But giving up and quitting is not a simple concept to understand.  Giving something a try and failing to succeed no matter what you try is not quitting if you decide to move on.  Simply stated, not matter what you try, work as hard as you can and if you cannot get it to work, then find something else that you can succeed in.  Confidence is not built by trying as hard as you can to do something that you cannot do indefinitely.  Once you learn the difference and know your limits, the better you will become. 

“The spirit, the will to win and the will to excel – these are the things that endure and these are the qualities that are so much more important than any of the events that occasion them.”

An over-arching theme of Lombardi's entire life.  Another way to look at it is thinking about it using a different metaphor.  Success is derived not from the destination, but from the journey getting there.  Habits leading to excellence and practicing the right things to increase your will to win are so much more important than the individual win.  And it leads to more success.

“Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”

No one is perfect. And there is nothing you will ever do that will require perfection.  It is the essence of being human to be imperfect.  The interesting part about life is figuring out a response to the imperfections you will face in your life.  But if you practice good habits and you practice willing yourself to succeed, you have a great chance to be successful at whatever you try to do.  That's all I can ask.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tepid Tim Tebow Joins the Patriots

Tim Tebow has joined the New England Patriots!  I was flabbergasted when I heard the news, what with Bill Belichick calling Tebow out as a terrible football player just days ago. Really, Tim Tebow seems like a curious choice to join the three time champions.  Some in the family would agree with me.

"Really, Dad, he stinks!" My 11 year old texted me.

"Why did they sign him, they have Tom Brady!"  My 8 year old stated.

"Who's Tim Tebow?" DLG asks me, not really sure what all of the commotion was about.

Now over the last 24 hours, pundits have theorized why Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and Robert Kraft signed this guy.  It was a favor to Urban Meyer.  It was a favor to Josh McDaniels.  It was a ploy to increase interest in the team prior to camp starting next month and to increase sales and attendance at preseason games.  It was a shot at the Boston Herald for reporting that Belichick hated Tim Tebow just a couple of days ago.

Who cares?  The simple reason the Patriots signed Tebow was because he comes without risk.  He signed a non guaranteed contract.  He's a hard worker and will likely be motivated to excel in any capacity that the Patriots find for him.  Personally, I think that he would be the third string quarterback but will also play a lot of special teams with his religious teammate Matthew Slater.  A good, hard-nosed player playing special teams is what every team is looking for.

All-in-all, I think it is a good signing.  We might not agree with it using the playing field as a barometer.  And all of the local columnists are crying that the signing will bring the circus to town.  But so what?  If there is a team that is adept at dealing with circuses, it's this one.  Remember, Albert Haynesworth, Randy Moss and Chad Ochocinco were also considered side shows when they came to Foxboro.  Some succeeded some did not, but they all managed to fall into the Patriot way.  It was not that big of a deal then, and I doubt this will be a big deal now.

So let's hope that this works out.  I like the heady play and the leadership that Tebow can bring.  I like the spirit and locker room presence he can lend, and I like how he can take some of the media pressure off for a Patriots team that is entering is 9th season of the Brady era without a Super Bowl.  Maybe Tebow will win that elusive starting job somewhere after he leaves the Patriots.  I think it is worth a shot to see if he can do it.