My Chicago White Sox are a mysterious team in 2006.
In 2005, as you know, they became World Series Champions, for the first time in about 80 years.
Having vanquished their thirst for victory, they got off to a bumbling start this year, and then they let the Detroit Tigers sneak into first place, a slot they’ve been occupying for two or more weeks.
The Sox are trailing by a game and a half, and I’m wondering if that’s exactly where they want to be for the next month or two.
Why would they choose to be a close second?
(1) They might believe that the pressure is on the new leaders. After all, the Tigers haven’t earned their stripes in a post-season in a long, long time, so they’re not used to the heat of contention.
(2) The Sox might be welcoming a small cessation in press scrutiny. Talk about heat, the kitchen was warming up quite a bit when they were struggling, and being a solid second gets them some press, but the real heat is always on the leader.
(3) It’s like a foot race. When you’re a close second, you can pace the leader, seeing his every step and waiting for the misstep before bolting forward. He’s always wondering when you’re going to turn on the afterburners, feeling your eyes burning through his back.
(4) It makes them humble. Uncontested champs get lazy, look lackadaisical, and garner disrespect. Being in second, they seem like the old Avis ad: “We try harder.”
(5) At this rate of winning, the Sox will still make it to the post-season as the Wild Card Champs. They may be behind the Tigers by one and a half, but they’re number one in the Wild Card race.
Losing isn’t fun, and the best view is always reserved for the lead dog.
Still, there’s something to be said for being a close second, whether it’s in baseball, or possibly in any competitive endeavor.
Dr. Gary S. Goodman is a dynamic speaker at sales, customer service, and motivational meetings, seminars, and conventions. Best-selling author of 12 books and more than 600 articles, he is a frequent expert commentator on radio and TV, worldwide. To book him for your next event, please address your inquiry to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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