Well, the Houston Astros did it. For the first time in their franchise history, with a 66-year pennant drought, they returned to their battered city with the World Series Championship safely in hand—the proud survivors of a long-fought battle that was not decided until the conclusion of a best-of-seven series that went all seven games.
GAME SEVEN. It has become an icon for the pinnacle of team sport, the narrow way through which the best of teams must journey on their way to greatness. As I thought about the Astros’ win, I thought about some of the characteristics of Game Seven.
Game Seven means you’ve already shown that you know how to win. You don’t get to Game Seven if you don’t have full functionality in every part of your team. Every system, every strategy, every player. How you prepare and play. How you plan and execute. What you do to improve. Why you are playing at all, and why your goals are important to you. (I can’t help but think that the August weather disaster, and everything that has happened since, gave the Astros a reason to play hard and well—a reason that had not previously been in their “why we play” strategy book and that helped make the difference.) To get to Game Seven you must already know how to win.
However, Game Seven also means that you’ve lost three games of the series, and you have a strategy for coming back from the losses. You must have your focus back on the big goal. You have to gather your energy and strength. Your best players must be at their very best—and your “utility players” must be absolutely confident and ready to play. To get to Game Seven you must know how to come back after a loss.
And Game Seven means playing both defense and offense. The Astros know that you don’t win by not losing. You can’t defend a position you haven’t created in the first place. To get to Game Seven you must know that it takes the whole team to win.
Congratulations to the Houston Astros and the city of Houston. As the people of Houston continue to struggle to recover from the largest rain event in US history, the Astros have given them a measure of confidence and strength that has been tested and tried in the cauldron of Game Seven. And a reason to be proud.