I wanted to share a quote I recorded in an interview with Joe Maddon. (By recorded, I mean wrote down. I didn’t do the interview. ) This is Maddon’s number one rule he wants his ball players to follow… no excuses.
I’ll talk about it a little bit more in a second, but I just want you to be prepared for a very simple rule. It can apply to everyone on the ball club, and doesn’t require any special set of skills, so the “25th man” can be as good at it (and even better) than the best player on the team.
Here it is:
All I want our guys to do is run hard to first base. You can make as many throwing errors as you need to. You can throw to the wrong base as often as you want to. You could strike out with the bases loaded ten times in a row. I don’t care, as long as you run hard to first base.
I really believe that kind of effort permeates the rest of your game. I think if you have the mental where with all to run hard to first base – every time – you’re gonna work a better At Bat. You’re gonna throw to the right base. You’re gonna be head’s up and go first to third. You’re gonna do all those things, just by having this little thing within you that causes or makes you want to run hard to first base all the time.
Pretty simple, right?
But how many times have you rolled over a ball, hit a routine ground ball to short, and NOT bust it out of the batter’s box?
How many times have you hit a routine pop up and found yourself more concerned with spewing words your mom and dad don’t want to hear coming out of your mouth (under your breath of course), instead of getting down the line?
How many times have you failed to follow this simple rule?
I know that I could share at least a few stories of how ball players (including myself) not only failed to follow this rule, but cost themselves more than someone yelling in their ear to get moving. I could talk about losing out on taking the extra base – or not being able to even after the fielder drops the routine pop. I could talk about hitting the first base bag wrong and blowing out an ankle. I could talk about the player that literally cost himself the chance to play for a HUGE contract. All because each one of these players failed to run hard to first base.
But I won’t do that today.
Instead, I want to challenge you – regardless of where you’re at in your season – to make sure that the remaining chances you have to run to first base, you do it with 100% conviction, intensity, and ability. (Note: You don’t know when that last one will pop up so don’t take the chance of thinking it’s far away!)
If you’re ticked off, don’t sulk and jog down the line. Get the frustration out by running as hard as you can to first base.
If you’re trying to stand out, don’t do the “big league trot.” Stand out by being the only guy that books it down the line… every time.
Remember: Physical errors happen all the time in baseball. Booting a ground ball, taking a bad swing, throwing a wild pitch. They’re all physical mistakes, and to some extend can be excused.
Hustling is a mental mistake. There is no place for mental mistakes. A mental mistake is a sign of not paying attention, not being prepared for the situation, or just flat out not caring.
To steal a line I’ve heard my entire life, “Never Lose Your Hustle!”