20 INNINGS

Saturday the New York Mets and the St. Louis Cardinals went into extra innings.  Six hours and fifty three minutes later, Jose Reyes hit a sacrifice fly and the Mets emerged victorious.  Extra innings had turned into a double-header in reality plus two more innings. One person who will remember this game in particular will also probably be remembered because of this game. His name is Joe Mather. He is a utility infielder for the Cardinals who Manager Tony LaRussa pressed into service when he ran out of pitchers. Mather  went into the record books as the hurler credited with the loss.  Since the odds are high he will never pitch again, he’ll be stuck with that distinction.

One of the heroes of the game was actually on the losing side.  He was also a Cardinal, their catcher, Yadier Molina.  Under ordinary circumstances catching is the most grueling assignment on a team. Bending down, jumping up and down, taking shots from fast balls in the dirt and foul balls, catchers can get beat up quite bit in a single game–let alone a game that is longer than a doubleheader. It wears on the body, numbs the mind, and a catcher can be excused for the occasional lapse or lackadaisical response.  But in the 14th inning when David Wright dashed to second base on a steal, Yadier Molina gunned him down with a sharp and precise throw that would that of a catcher on his best day and his best moments.  It could have been all over for the Mets then, but Yadier made it possible for them to survive for another day (excuse me, inning). Yesterday, Molina was back behind the plate for the rubber match between the Mets and Cardinals. playing with an intensity and a professionalism worthy of note.

Some of the most under-appreciated people in any group are those who just show up and do their job.  They don’t take unnecessary time off. They do their job with enthusiasm and thoroughness part of the time.  They do their work with integrity and reliability.

These folks are not robots or drones.  They are people who understand their true importance to the group and their part in making it successful.  They do their work not for applause or recognition. They do it because of their character.

In our world we often suffer from people who say things like:

“I did my part, now you do yours.”

“Why should I have to be responsible?”

“What’s in it for me?”

“Someone else will do it.”

Blessed are the 20 inning performers, the people we can count on. They make winners of us all.

(I know, I know – the Cardinals lost.  It’s only one game but that one game may be the character building or team bonding experience that makes sure that they emerge victors in the end.

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