Michael Wacha flirted with a postseason no-hitter. The A’s are within one game of advancing to the ALCS. Juan Uribe blasted a go-ahead home run to propel the Dodgers into the NLCS. Jose Loboton kept the Rays alive with a walk-off homer against the Red Sox. Yesterday was one filled with great performances on the field.
However, of all the impressive performances in yesterday’s Division Series action, the one that sticks with me happened off the field, after the game.
Multiple tweets mentioned Dodger Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax congratulating the current coaching staff and players in the clubhouse after they defeated the Braves. It’s hard to overstate Koufax’s legend in Dodger country. He is an icon, immortalized by his dominant career.
What strikes me about him being in the clubhouse joyfully congratulating this year’s team is that not every player who would make his franchise’s “Mount Rushmore” would be willing to do that. Many of them would be jealous or resentful about the success of those who have followed them. Many of them would decry the modern game and long for the “good ole days.” Not Koufax. He was never that kind of guy.
Koufax retired in his early 30s after years of debilitating arm pain. He put his family ahead of his career (noting that he wanted to be able to still use his left arm down the road). Yet, he had already put his team ahead of himself, taking routine cortisone shots to be able to pitch through the pain. He and Don Drysdale stood up for all players against the unfair Reserve Clause, even being willing to be branded as selfish, simply because it was the right thing to do.
It’s no surprise that Koufax would be one of the old-time Dodger greats in the clubhouse after a series win.
What about you and me? Do we celebrate the success of others, even when it might overshadow our own? Or, are we jealous and resentful, wanting others to do well, but not REALLY well.
Koufax models a humility worth following.