The baseball playoffs are upon us, and that puts me in mind of a book written by a Cincinnati Reds pitcher about four decades ago.
I would expect only the most obsessed of baseball fans (yes, my hand is raised) to have heard of The Long Season, by Jim Brosnan. A really fine book, one of the finest insider books I have ever read, the more so because it was penned by an actual major league player during the season.
Brosnan also wrote Pennant Race, an equally fine addition to the literary world, but I again digress.
The point of mentioning The Long Season is in reference to the way everyone feels about the Broncos right now.
I have some degree of agreement with the concept that the sky is falling, but only to this degree: when you raise your head, you can see the sky.
And that’s as far as my agreement goes.
Yes, I know, red zone offense, stopping the run, field position, special teams, and on and on and on.
So, six weeks ago, did you think the Colorado Rockies would have done what they have just accomplished?
Did you think the Mets would blow that lead? Well, as a Yankees fan, I shouldn’t go there.
Do we know which NFL teams are going to have the greater development over the next 12 weeks?
How about which ones are going to be afflicted by injuries to key personnel at vital positions.
We don’t know any of those things.
I do know that I have seen us win and lose, at home and away, as a favorite and underdog, at every level of play including the Super Bowl. And the bottom line is, we just don’t know.
You have to keep playing, keep coaching, keep working along.
I know that right now, Dan O’Dowd and Clint Hurdle look a lot smarter than they did a month ago. Funny how winning makes that work.
Earlier this year Yankees manager Joe Torre had some great words of wisdom when a sportswriter asked him, “Is it time to panic yet?”
And Torre said, “The problem when you panic is, what do you do after you panic? We still have a game tomorrow.”
The point is, you have to keep your head, keep your emotional balance, and just keep working. There are seven new starters on the Broncos’ offense and defense, and sometimes it takes some time to get everything going. How long?
No one has ever figured that out. That’s why you have to stay the course and keep working. You can’t be sure how good you will get by continuing to work, but you can be very sure what the result will be when you give up.
That is something that every coach and manager understands, but which is naturally a very difficult concept for the rest of us.
We accept it empirically, but have a very hard time with it emotionally.
And a lot of psychologists stay in business helping people to harness their emotions.
We always have to be aware that the sky is above us, but that does not mean it’s falling.
You never really play a whole season; you play one game at a time, over and over again, and then it adds up to a season.
That’s how the Broncos won back-to-back world championships, it is how John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins won more than 70 consecutive games, and it is how the Rockies just finished their season.
Let’s play the next game and see what happens.