Note: I wrote this a couple of weeks ago now and it appeared in the local paper. The Jays came back and won the ALDS and then lost to Kansas in the ALCS. The Habs won 9 games in a row while Kevin Harvick is still in the Chase while Kenseth is out. Leadership is not something that can easily be learned, it has to be earned and maintained. Many say it is a gift and they might be right. Enjoy.
It is one of my favorite times of year. Hockey season has started, NASCAR is down to the Chase, and the Majors are into the playoffs. My wife despises it, as we debate how long I can sit in front of the TV or how many channels I can watch at once. As I watch all these elite sporting events, I am always in awe of how elevated the personalities become when the pressure is on.
For example, take this past Sunday's NASCAR race in Dover. Kevin Harvick was in a must win situation in order to advance to the next round of the Chase. In true Harvick fashion, he pulls off the victory and advances to the next round of the Chase. Throughout the race he was calm, cool, and collected and when it was over, he was already focused on the next race.
Speaking of calm, cool, and collected, the undisputed leader of the Montreal Canadiens is Carey Price. As a goalie he is called on to make big saves and when you play on a team that relies heavily on defence, like the Canadiens, he has to make lots of saves in some games. Realizing how important the first game of the season can be, Price made two big saves in the third period to lead the Canadiens to victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night.
So now I move to the Blue Jays. Josh Donaldson, and I'll throw Jose Bautista in there too, are the leaders of the Jays. In the first game of the playoffs though, they left the game early instead of playing through some pain. I know I'm going to take some slack for this, but as the leaders of that team, it looked like they gave up early. If it was me and I was in that situation, there was no way I'd want to leave the game. Now I realize they may have been injured more than I realize so I'll give them the benefit of doubt. I hope this is not a sign of things to come in this playoff series though. When your leaders don't elevate their game, it makes it hard for the rest of the team to elevate. That being said, sometimes it gives someone new an opportunity to step up and Encarnacion looked really good today.
If Kevin Harvick stumbled then Jamie McMurray might be racing in the second round of the Chase. If Carey Price had come out flat then the Leafs start the season off on a better foot. If Donaldson and Bautista stay in the game, even if they still lose, it shows their teammates they are fighting and encourages someone else to elevate their game even further and sets a better mood for game two. Just so you know, I'm proudly Canadian and therefore I am cheering for the Jays and hope they can overcome the challenges in front of them.
A team stands a much better chance of coming together when the leaders go to bat for the team. If the leader doesn't go to bat, chances are the team will fall apart or the leadership will quickly change. Go Jays Go.