Precarious Champs of The NL East

After 8 years of yellow banner futility the Atlanta Braves are your NL East Champions. The team stumbled to the finish line, going 7-10 in their past 17 games, but won nevertheless. Football has started, The Dodgers are the media darling and for a team that has faced so many obstacles the mood around the fanbase seems ominous. In Atlanta it can be hard to fully trust any team in the playoffs; heartbreak is common, disappointment is run-of-the-mill and excitement makes you vulnerable. Atlanta’s 2013 season will be remembered as a series of very hot-streaks and overcoming obstacles, The Nationals never seemed to get it rolling and the Braves took off early and never looked back… They lost their #1 starter in JulyTheir biggest offseason free agent signing hit .186Their slugger second baseman was even worse, hitting .181Their all-star setup men, O’Flaherty and Venters missed entire season.The player that spent the majority of games hitting leadoff had a .256 OBPJason Heyward missed over a month with a broken jaw. It was a successful season on a number of levels, regardless of what happens in the playoffs. 70% of the experts predictions of ESPN were incorrect, that’s why baseball is the best professional sport in America, their are no Miami Heat teams, their is no such thing as ‘inevitable’, except perhaps to expect the unexpected.

Champion Code

The following is an excerpt of an article by University of Maryland Head Coach Soccer Coach Sasho Cirovski. It is aimed at the inspiring/elite level athlete. Below is the C-H-A-M-P-I-O-N acronym that I’ve developed for athletes who care enough and are prepared to work to achieve greatness. COMMITMENT Decide if being a great player is important to you. If the answer is yes, don’t wait for an environment to be created for you. Don’t wait for a coach to make you great. If you are not going out on your own and working on your individual techniques daily — for at least an hour a day (especially on those days when you are not playing or practicing with a team) — then you don’t have the heart to be a champion! Remember, soccer is a very easy game to play, but it’s an extremely difficult one to play well! In that sense it’s a little bit like golf. Do you think Tiger Woods spends at least an hour a day on his technique? I can tell you that Marco Etcheverry does! HUMILITY It’s what you learn after you “know it all” that really counts. The great ones all possess this quality that inspires them to get better because they all have the greatest amount of respect for the challenges issued to them daily by the opponents and the special demands of the sport. They are courteous and gracious both in victory and defeat. ATTITUDE Remember, you are in charge of your attitude. It is the most important attribute that we have directly in our control. Therefore it’s vitally important that you choose to have a positive, optimistic outlook at all times. Many great athletes never even give themselves a chance to succeed because their attitude is negative, or they spend so much time and energy worrying about things they can’t control. One of my favorite quotes is “whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re probably right.” So every night before you go to bed, look in the mirror and ask yourself how your attitude was today. If it was not positive and inspiring then change it! It’s that simple. Make playing a labor of love! MODEL THE WAY Yes, that’s right, you are a role model and you must understand and accept the responsibility that goes along with the goals you’ve set for yourself of becoming a big-timer. Once you understand its significance, it can be an internally inspiring force that gets you going on those days you think nobody cares. The great ones understand that it’s what you do when you think nobody is watching that’s really important. Because invariably there is someone always watching! Accept the challenge. PRIDE Every time you practice or play, you always autograph the quality of your effort with the name on the back of your shirt … your family name. Also, when you play a game, you represent your team with the name on the front of the shirt. It’s absurd for me to think that to give less than 100 percent effort at all times is not possible. “If it’s to be, it’s up to me” is another one of my favorite quotes. INITIATIVE Be a leader. Come up with ideas to make yourself a better athlete, a better person and a better player. Go out and buy 10 balls and a ball bag, so you have no excuse not to train. Go to a top college or pro game and actually study the player from whom you can learn something. Read a soccer book. Watch a soccer video. Continue to log on to websites. You get the idea. Some people dream big and others wake up and realize their dreams. So get going, now! OVERCOME Invariably, it will not be an easy road to your ultimate success. You will face obstacle after obstacle. Your persistence and ability to overcome adversity, frustration and disappointment, and all other obstacles that come your way will determine the heights you reach. Many times, the actual exhilaration we feel when we accomplish something worthy is directly proportional to the number of obstacles we had to overcome along the way. Make all obstacles your challenges (speed bumps), and go out and conquer them! NEVER SAY NEVER Never stop believing in yourself. Sometimes, we have to change our destinations or the roads we take to get us there, but don’t ever quit. Promise yourself that you will always work hard and always persevere to the very end! Quitters never win and winners never quit! I’ll never forget the first time that the Houston Rockets won the NBA Championship and a reporter asking Hakeem Olajuwon, “how does it finally feel to be Champion?” After a few seconds of pause, Hakeem looked at the reporter and said “it feels great to have won, but I don’t need a trophy to tell me that I am now a champion. I feel like every day I am a champion by the way I train, play and live my life.” I thought it was perhaps the best response I have ever heard by an athlete and in part has inspired me to put in perspective what athletics is all about. I hope this will inspire you to take a more active role in your own future.