One In A Row

Small victories. They may not seem like a big deal when they happen, but when you add them up over time, they certainly make a huge difference in your life. The hard part of celebrating these small victories is when you feel like the hole you have put yourself in is almost impossible to get out of. If that’s you right now, I get it. I have been there brother and I know the feeling of hopelessness that goes with it. The thing that we need to remember is that every marathon begins with one step. Every hill we climb begins with one upward stride. We move forward towards our goal, one in a row.

Today’s blog is the third in a three-part series that has told the story of my experience coaching this season in Billings, MT in the Pioneer League. Stay Level is all about keeping your composure when faced with a daunting task, and in Finish Strong I talk about how a man’s character is revealed in the face of adversity. The four months I spent in Montana stretched me as a leader. The way I was able to successfully navigate this time was simplifying everything and having a small focus. I put things into perspective and made sure I was always doing my best to try and stay in the moment. 

When I looked at our schedule it was one game at a time. When the game started it was one inning at a time, and when the inning started it was one out at a time. Whether our team won or lost that night, which at times we did a lot of both, we always said after the game “One in a row”. It was the same for our 9 game losing streak early in the season, and the remarkable 15 game winning streak at the end of the season which vaulted us into the playoffs. We stayed united through everything. 

Count the Small Victories

Celebrate the steps so you enjoy the journey is a way to think about this. Sometimes we focus so much on the destination that we miss out on the fun along the way. It’s like being on a ride across this beautiful country we live in and never stopping to enjoy the scenery. Our plan this season was to make the playoffs. We started out 3-3 and then our team went on a 9 game skid. On June 9th we finally won again, and we savored that victory. We figured the hard part was behind us and we just needed to put a few of W’s in a row, one by one. That ended up being easier said than done.

We started to play better and by July 4th we were 18-20. Getting back to .500 was close. Then we hit another bad streak where we lost 9 of 10, and at the All-Star break we were 19-29. The team lacked energy and I was frustrated. We made some changes to the roster, started to prepare better as a coaching staff, and I worked harder in every capacity I could. It took us a month and a half to do it, but on Aug 31st we finally got back to .500 with a record of 43-43. While that felt good our work wasn’t done. 

Ride the Momentum

That victory on the last day of August was satisfying considering the hill we had to climb to get there, but we weren’t going to settle for average. Our team had just won 10 games in a row, and we were cruising. We scored 64 runs in our last 3 games and in the words of the other manager we were “curb stomping” his team. Moments like this come few and far between so when you find yourself in the middle of a hot streak whether its sports or business take notes on what is working. Great leaders have a pulse on their team and they know how to motivate them.

Ride that wave of momentum and look for ways to implement what works when you hit a lull at some point during the year. The hope is that you will be able to avoid long periods of drought or tough times because you learned from past mistakes. You will notice when things are trending in a negative way, and you will be able to right the ship before things go south. Great leaders can see problems on the horizon because they continually to search for ways to improve. Moss doesn’t grow on a rolling stone.

Acknowledge Others

There is no way you can do life on your own and think you will be successful. I know that maps and directions are worthless because deep down in the DNA of every man is an ancient explorer with an inner compass that is always correct. At least I want to think that, but then I realize that maybe my wife is right, and not only is it pitch black, but we are totally lost in the back woods of Flagstaff and I have come to the conclusion that I have no idea where the heck we are at. “Hey Siri, can you help me out?”.

We continued to win and qualified for the playoffs on the last day of the season! We went 17-3 in our final 20 games. It was a crazy run that seemed improbable in mid-July by almost everyone except for the men in that locker room. Our plan when the season started was to make the post-season and we figured out a way to get it done. I made sure to acknowledge God, our coaches, and players every time I was interviewed by the media. My typical line was ”God deserves all the glory and these guys deserve all the praise.” Make sure that you consistently praise those around you with your actions and words, so they know they are valued. 

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  1. Christina Whitlock

    Good read!

  2. Very inspirational Billy. In my 53 years in this game I still strive to be better than I was the day before in motivating the young men I work with, front office, the fans and more importantly myself. The Dogs have an exceptional man in our Baseball Chaplain Paul Jepsen we have led the league in Chapel attendance for the last three years, which is as inspirational to me as winning a Championship. Your message was wonderful and God Bless you.

  3. Jimmy Gonzalez

    Great write up Billy, loved it!

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