Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Just a Real Son of a Bitch

I recently have been watching Ken Burns Baseball that was originally produced for PBS on the MLB channel.  I have seen bits and pieces of it before but this is the first time I have watched the show in sequence. 

The first three programs deal will the early days of baseball.  Some say when it was a game and it mostly deals with the dead ball era (the era before the ball was wound and stitched very tight and when this occurred home runs became the thing). 

It was an era of hitters and also of players who had a bit more personality than the ballplayers of today (really after the 70’s personalities seem like they are just not the same). 

Baseball has had its share of villains over the years and Ty Cobb is one that is probably always at the top of the list.  Let’s face it, he was a bad person.  Racist in nature, hated by his own teammates and described by one teammate as “Just a Real Son of A Bitch”.  If you remember in the movie Field of Dreams Ray Liotta’s Joe Jackson character made a reference to Ty Cobb wanting to come and play and he referred to the fact that none of them could stand him when he was playing so they told him to go screw himself.   

The Biblical meaning of the name Tyrus is: Strength; rock; sharp.  As pointed out in Ken Burns Baseball the name is also synonymous with the Siege of Tyre which was a city that refused to surrender to Alexander the Great.  Cobb’s drive and demeanor on the field pretty much matched the origins of his name. 

Cobb was one of the, if not the greatest hitter of all time.  Just look at his career stats:

Ty Cobb's Career Batting Statistics



His career average will never be matched and his numbers for hits and stolen bases will likely always be in the top five.  I doubt anyone will ever win twelve batting titles either and for sure not twelve consecutive batting titles.  There are other records that say he struck out 600 times instead of 357 but pretty amazing feat either way. 

Cobb was not just a great player but a great competitor.  One of the most competitive men to ever play a professional sport period based what I have learned about him over the years. 

What motivated Cobb?  Per a story covered by Ken Burns Baseball on the road Cobb was always the first one back to his room, before his traveling roommate, and first in the tub.  Once when his roommate made it back before him and was in the tub first.   Cobb, upon arriving in his room, went in and yanked the teammate out of the tub, while yelling, “I have to be first!  I have to be first in everything I do!”

Cobb was motivated by his father.  A father who told him when he left to go play baseball professional in a lower level league to not come back a failure.  Tremendous pressure put on a young kid who idolized his dad. 

Cobb was an immediate success and two weeks before the Tigers purchased him to play in Detroit Cobb’s father was tragically killed by his own mother.  Cobb was quoted in later years that he was driven by his father’s challenge and even more driven by the fact his father never got to see his success. 

I look at other great athletes who were driven like no others, Larry Bird and Ben Hogan come to mind, who had motivation and drive that came, like Cobb, from tragic losses of their fathers.  The great ones are usually driven like no one else for some reason.  There are some who do it on talent alone but that usually runs out on them much quicker than those who do it with drive and hard work.

Nicklaus, Jones, Tiger and Mickelson also come to mind who were not driven by tragedy related to their fathers but by fathers who motivated them to become the champions they were and are on the golf course.      

Love him or hate him Ty Cobb is one of the greatest athletes sports has ever known.  Even as much of a Son of A Bitch as Cobb was he also did some great things in his life with his wealth that rarely garner any recognition and is really more of his legacy than what he did on the baseball field.    

He donated $100,000 in his parents' name for his hometown to build a modern 24-bed hospital, Cobb Memorial Hospital, which today is part of the Ty Cobb Healthcare System in the State of Georgia today.   He also established the Cobb Educational Fund, which awarded scholarships to needy Georgia students bound for college, by endowing it with a $100,000 donation in 1953 (of Coca Cola Stock) and that endowment still exists today.

Ty Cobb the ballplayer, one of best ever, Ty Cobb the person, pretty much a rotten guy but in the end Ty Cobb showed he had some heart and did care about more than just himself.

I think I have allot of Cobb in me because I am very much motivated like he, Bird and Hogan were for sure.  I also think as you grow older you think about your legacy and what will your legacy be and I think that is why Cobb did some of the good things he did later in his life.  Not everyone will have a legacy like a Ty Cobb from the sense of how famous his legacy is, what it has done and will be for years to come but everyone can leave a legacy. 

Thinking about your legacy and what you legacy means and how it could be carried on his healthy thinking and something that people should take time to reflect upon.  Understanding legacy and what that means has also given a big boost to my career because I have established things at work that will be my legacy for years to come that will benefit people and my organization 

Read more on Cobb here:


Cracking the Code

I recently finished reading Paul Azinger’s book Cracking the Code which is the story of how he put together his team for the 2008 Ryder Cup and led the team to a successful Cup performance. 

I have to say now I understand what Mickelson was saying at the close of the 2014 event and why the European Team has an advantage before the matches even start. 

We had all heard about the pod system but the book goes into some fascinating detail of where Azinger got the idea, how the idea evolved with input from allot of people and how in the end he had three pods of three people and he let each pod decide what player to add to their pod and the team. 

He created some ownership in the process and truly built a team from the Pods.  So when Watson said it is not Pods it is a team of 16 people he had it half right but the Pods are important. 

The book also gave me some great ideas for work also.  My direct reports lead teams and our projects are team based with all team members dependent on each other.  There is some pretty cool stuff that we are talking about incorporating that Azinger used in his process and execution. 

Lesson Learned!  I need to read more books because you never know where the next great idea can come from.  


-       When I retire I plan on getting two dogs.  If I was going to get them today I would name one of them Tyrus and the other one Musial.

-       If you are not listening to or watching Finebaum for an hour a day you are really missing out on some great entertainment (hopefully it is not because you are watching Doug Gottlieb). 

-       Kentucky Basketball is not going to go undefeated.

-       SEC Basketball is better than it is getting credit for. 

-       St Louis does NOT need to trade Carlos Marteinez. 

-       Cowboys got bit by Karma or Irony.  Right call bad rule in Packers game!  Saw Middies get the same call in 2013 to cost them game.  Navy player caught it, took two steps while falling backwards with ball cradled firmly, broke the plain of goal line, hit the ground in end zone and ball came out.  Had it been a running play Touchdown!    

-       Congrats to Buckeyes on winning the NC.  Urban Meyer is a great coach but proved at end of game he is an Petrino Like for not taking a knee!    

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