The Nationals are in an uncomfortable place. After their loss on Thursday night to the Rockies, and with only six weeks or so left in the season, their record is 60-60. Not too swell for a team that was heavily favored at the beginning of the season to handily win the National League East—and maybe go all the way to the World Series.
But there is still time—and the next 19 games could turn the season around. Why? Because 16 of the next 19 games will be played at Nationals Park. Their record at home is 31-23—a much better record and performance standard than when they are on the road. The next 20 days—and 19 games—will determine the season for them. And I’m hoping they pull it out.
Now, I don’t want to get into heated conversations about why they are in the situation they are in. I want to see them in the playoffs. I want them to still be playing late into October. OK, that may be a little too optimistic—but dreams matter, too. And dreams become reality by seizing the opportunities that life presents, and not just focusing on the difficulties.
While this matters to professional sports teams, it also makes sense for each of us personally—and I am not really thinking about our work at Adventist HealthCare right now. I’m thinking about how to handle a slump. I’m thinking about what to do when circumstances conspire together in ways that were not anticipated. I’m thinking about how to focus on the opportunity that the future always provides, instead of focusing on the past.
Life has its ebb and flow, its ups and downs. Setbacks. The unexpected. The future is never a sure thing; it is unwritten and brings its own set of surprises. Sometimes the roadmap, the script, the plan, the way we think it is all going to turn out, just goes another way. At that point we can wring our hands, make a list of what went wrong, or look for someone or something to blame for the misfortune. Or we can focus on the far horizon and the future. We can seek out the break in the clouds. We can show up ready to play.
For the Nats, at 60-60, this might as well be a whole new season. The gift they’ve been handed from the future is 16 games at home, where they know they can win. Their goal must be to catch the Mets and secure a playoff spot. Those three away games will be tough—because they have to play the Cardinals, and they have to win. But what better way to prepare for that series than to begin winning against the Brewers tonight?
Wishing you were a better team, not plagued by injuries and second guessing, won’t help you win ball games. But looking for the opportunities that the future always brings is really the best chance any of us have got. When you look for the opportunities that are built on your strengths, that are rooted in what you know you do well, that is about as good a formula for success as I can imagine.
And the basis for a winning season.