I’m not much of a baseball fan during the regular season because, with 162 games to play, no game in and of itself means much. And since that’s the case, I just can’t bring myself to invest the time. But when the playoffs come around, all that changes, and baseball takes on the atmosphere the NFL has for just about every game, especially after Halloween.
And this World Series was proving to be very exciting. As a resident of northern New Jersey, I found myself surrounded by a lot of Mets fans, and their enthusiasm was contagious. I kept hearing them talk about how exciting the team was, and how young — how they were going to be around contending for a long time, no matter what happened this year.
But with four games played in the World Series, it seemed not much was going to be happening for the Mets, as they were down three games to one. In game 5, however, the Mets’ Matt Harvey (aka The Dark Knight) was pitching a statement game for the ages, and as he came off the mound at the end of the eighth inning with a 2-0 lead, the ovation rocked Citi Field. Everyone assumed Harvey was finished for the night; he’d thrown over 100 pitches and done his job well. Mets closer Jeurys Familia was warmed up and ready to come in, and everything was working out as hoped, as planned.
But when Fox returned from its commercial break, announcer Joe Buck said, “After this batter, we’ve got something to show you.”
To which his co-announcer Tom Verducci responded that he hadn’t seen such a scene in many years.
And what the video showed was Harvey being told by pitching coach Dan Warthen that he would not be coming out for the ninth. To which Harvey was seen mouthing something like “No way,” repeatedly. Harvey then immediately walked over to Mets manager Terry Collins, continuing to say, “No way. No way.”
It might have happened immediately or it might have taken a few minutes, but by the time a Mets pitcher was to take the mount in the ninth, Collins had made a decision, he had, actually, changed his mind. Harvey had convinced him that he should come out for the final inning.
And most of us know what happened next. Harvey gave up a walk and a double before being taken out. And the Mets lost the game in 12 innings, putting an end to their World Series dreams.
But I want to focus on those few moments between Harvey’s rant and Collins’ decision to change his mind. In those few moments, we see leadership being exercised at a very high level, in a very acute moment of intensity. Though lives were not on the line, many careers were, and many dollars. In that moment, Terry Collins made a decision, which in hindsight seems to have been a mistake.
But the fact is that we really will never know if it was mistake, for we’d have to go back in time, make the other choice, and see how that worked — just because choice A fails, doesn’t mean that choice B would have fared any better.
Now, let’s be clear — leaders who are stubborn and do not consider advice are just as incompetent as those who cannot act without consensus or majority support. But if anything can be said in Collins’ favor, it’s that he listened to an important opinion. If there is any real knock on the decision, it is not the one to let Harvey come out for the ninth, but the one to leave him in after giving up a walk.
So fear not, there is some science to the art of decision making, and getting advice from smart folks — those highly invested in the situation — is a critical aspect. Then it’s on you to evaluate all those opinions, consider your own, and make a decision. Based on outcomes, nobody is going to get it right every time, but the one thing you can get right every time is following this tried and true method, just like Collins did.