Musthafa Ebadi
Sports, Management, and Leadership
by Musthafa Ebadi on October 12th, 2015

​They say you can learn a lifetime of a lesson in few minutes.

As most of you know I am a sport fanatic. What you may or may not know is that I am also a junky when it comes to leadership and management, always on a lookout to be a better manager and a better leader.

I often watch sports to relax and de-stress, but also learn and grow in the process. 

After wrapping up at the office today I planned to watch game 4 of American League Division Series between Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers, relax, and get ready for few weeks of actioned packed schedule!

Like many Canadian I am a Blue Jays fan, and have to admit I was nervous about 2nd straight elimination game for them.

As I sat in the car and turned the dial to the game, Chris Colabello hit a solo homerun at the bottom of the first to make it 3 -0 for Blue Jays!

The rest of the game was what doctor had ordered, and by mid 5th inning it was 7-1 for Jays!

Before I get to rest of this post let me give you some context.

The Toronto Blue Jays: Started the ALDS as favorites however lost 2 home games to go down 2-0 in best of 5 series. They won 5-1 yesterday in Arlington, and today was another do or die game.

John Gibbons: The team raised eyebrows on November 20th 2012 when it announced to bring back “Gibby”, as he is known, for a 2nd stint to manage the Jays. Why? In his first stint he developed a reputation of micro manager, flip flopper, playing it safe, and trying to be popular!

RA Dickey: The 40-year-old 4th pitcher of the Jays rotation who became the oldest player to start a post season game in history of baseball. He was drafted by Texas Rangers, and debuted on the same mound that he would pitch tonight.

David Price: The “Ace” of Toronto’s rotation! BlueJays payed a hefty price to acquire him as a "rental" player this July. The goal was to get an Ace Pitcher to guide you to post season. Price has a horrible record in post season with 1 win in 6 games – direct contrast to his unbelievable regular season record of 104 win and 56 losses.  

The plot: It’s a 7 -1 game in bottom of the 5th with 2 outs. For those of you that don’t know baseball a pitcher needs to pitch 5 full innings to qualify for a win. RA Dickey needs 1 more out with a 6 run cushion to get his first win of his postseason (and perhaps the only one since he is 40 years old) in the same park that he pitched his first major league ball, and now his first Post Season major league ball. In fact the day before Dickey had said how things have come full circle for him, calling it "poetic ... a neat narrative." How cool, right?
​Wrong! As soon as RA Dickey got his 2nd out of the innings John Gibbons moved to the mound to replace him with David Price, thus taking away the win from Dickey and ruling out his Ace David Price to start in game 5 of best of 5 series.

I was baffled and dumbfounded about the move. I am dead tired today, and planned to hit the bed as soon as the game was done, however, after watching what had transpired I was keen to see how John Gibbons will explain his decision, and how RA Dickey will handle himself in post game media briefings.

When Gibbons sat behind podium the first question he was asked was about the decision! And he handled it like a leader. He explained his reasoning which was he didn’t want Dickey to face Sin-Soo Choo and the top order of Texas especially with Choo having Dickey’s number.

He said " it wasn't an easy decision...Probably not a relationship-building move, but a team win is more important and that's what I was looking for”. He was asked again and again however as a leader he explained his judgement behind this tough call and defended it! 

Do I agree with him? No. Do I think Dickey should have got the win? Yes. However what I learnt once again is as leaders we have to make tough decisions for the benefit of the team! It may not be popular among spectators, and fair to one or two team members however our primary responsibility is towards the team first!

And when RA Dickey sat behind the podium the first questions to him was how was he feeling after not getting the win with in a 7-1 game and 1 out away. He started by saying that no competitor should be happy about getting pulled, but feels more joy about getting to Game 5.

He talked about the team, how much joy there is by achieving the goal they setout 3 days ago, which was to win 2 games in Texas and bring the series back home in Toronto. He made a point to not let Gibbons decision overshadow the joy in the dressing room.

Dickey did say that he was disappointed with the decision, will sit and chat with his manager at somepoint about it, however was elated that they have a shot to win the series on Wednesday. He was genuine, sincere, honest, positive, and frank about the situation.

What I learnt observing him is you could be dealt the worst blow, feel cheated, and still genuinely conduct yourself as mature and selfless professional! Life isnt fair, we are put in situations we feel are uncalled for, and at times deserve better however we can still be a class act about it! 

He also said "It's amazing what you can accomplish when you don't care who gets the credit."

And that is true character of a leader and champion!

If this was RA’s last game in Major League he is going out as a champion in my books!

How he handled himself, the situation, and putting the team ahead of his self interest makes him a leader!

My level of respect just for him went few notches higher! 

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Nimeesh - October 13th, 2015 at 2:06 AM
Great post mate, spot on! Disheartening to see RA bow out of the game like this, but Gibby (our captain), his decision even though hugely questionable, is still a decision that everyone has to stand by for the benefit of the team's win. We got the win, all's well that ends well :)
- October 13th, 2015 at 8:34 AM
Thanks Nimeesh! Yup You got it budd!
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