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Theo Epstein speaks at commencement./Photo by Michael Marsland for Yale News. 0

Epstein calls Cubs championship a lesson for life

May 25th, 2017

In a commencement speech he gave to his Yale alma mater, Theo Epstein shared the player discussions that lifted the spirits of the Chicago Cubs and propelled them to a national championship.

The Cubs’ president of baseball operations was the featured speaker at the event earlier this week. He talked at length about that rain-delay period during game seven of the World Series. Time magazine has a full transcript, but the best part is here:

“All 25 guys (were) squeezed into a space designed for half that many. It was an unusual sight. We hardly ever had meetings and never during a game. I inched closer to the door and saw Aroldis Chapman, the pitcher who had surrendered the tying home run, in tears. I lingered just long enough to hear a few sentences.

“’We would not even be here without you,’ catcher David Ross said as he embraced Chapman. ‘We are going to win this for you. We are going to win this for each other.’

“Outfielder Jason Heyward walked to the middle of the room: ‘We are the best team in baseball’ he said. “We’ve leaned on each other all year. We’ve still got this. This is only going to make it sweeter.’

“And then first baseman Anthony Rizzo: ‘Nobody can take this away from us. We have each other.”
Kyle Schwarber stood up with a bat in his hands: “We win this right here!'”

Related: After winning series, Epstein dines on goat

After their victory, Epstein wanted to put into context what he saw in that small weight room that night. How would he tell his children about that moment and the subsequent win? He put it this way:

“We all have our rain delay moments. There will be times when everything you have been wanting, everything you have worked for, everything you have earned, everything you feel you deserve is snatched away in what seems like a personal and unfair blow. This, I will tell them, is called life. But when these moments happen, and they will, will you be alone at your locker with your head down, lamenting, divvying up blame; or will you be shoulder to shoulder with your teammates, connected, with your heads up, giving and receiving support?

“And I will tell them not to wait until the rain comes to make this choice, because that can be too late. We weren’t winners that night in Cleveland because we ended up with one more run than the Indians. If (Ben) Zobrist’s ball were four inches farther off the line, it would have been a double play and we would have lost the game. That was randomness; like much of life, it was arbitrary. We were winners that night in Cleveland because when things went really, really wrong — and then the rains came — our players already knew each other so well that they could come together; they already trusted each other so much that they could open up and be vulnerable, and they were already so connected that they could lift one another up. We had already won. That’s why I had that smile on my face as I walked away from the weight room door.”

 

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