Life, baseball not all about clutch ending (Greg Lowe Column)

Greg Lowe

Let the bitching begin.

The Cubs are cursed. They choked. They don’t have heart. They’re not clutch.

Well, I’m happy with the way the Cubs played this year. Why? Because baseball isn’t about being clutch — life isn’t about being clutch.

Throughout life, there is an overemphasis on decisive clutch performances at the expense of the everyday moments where excellence and talent shine. And there is undue criticism on those who don’t come up big “when it counts.”

The best way to win in baseball is to put together a team that can consistently win 90 games. The Cubs have done that. After that sometimes you’ll squeak into the playoffs and have an exciting October, and sometimes you’ll choke — regardless of the size of your heart.

People will tell you the most important games in baseball are the ones at the end of the season. And they’re wrong. They’ll say the decisive factor in the Cubs season was their losing record in one-run games. Wrong again.

The most important games in baseball are the 100 games that aren’t close. The ones that the best teams win a majority of the time. That’s why the Cubs were able to choke in September and the White Sox weren’t.

Life isn’t always fair, but in the end the best — the most talented, the hardest working, the most admirable — usually come out on top. Sometimes they choke in September, but they come out ahead in the long run.

Pundits say the presidential election might hinge on the clutch performances of George W. Bush and John Kerry in the debates and in the last days of the campaign. They’re right — to an extent.

But the real key to the election is that Bush squandered the massive approval ratings he had in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001. If Bush had kept those numbers well above 50 percent, Kerry would be like the White Sox, without the opportunity to be clutch.

It makes a better storyline when a baseball season comes down to one pitch or an election turns on one snappy line in a debate, but the vast majority of our lives are determined in those mundane moments when it doesn’t seem like everything is at stake.

Getting into medical school might depend on a clutch performance on the MCATs, but the years of your life you spent learning and preparing helped make that happen. You might have a clutch performance in a job interview, but you wouldn’t have that interview if you hadn’t amassed the credentials.

Life isn’t just about coming up big in the big moments. It’s about working your ass off throughout your life. It’s about being smarter, stronger and better prepared than the other guy. It’s about beating the Cincinnati Reds 13-2 in July.

Wait ’til next year.

Greg Lowe is a Medill senior. He can be reached at [email protected]