The 2016 MLB World Series was quite the roller coaster of emotions for many baseball fans, mainly of the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indian variety. The stakes were high since neither team had won the World Series in a combined total of 176 years (108 for the Cubs and 68 for the Indians). The anxiety peaked when Rajai Davis hit a game-tying homerun in the bottom of the 8th inning, forcing extra innings after a scoreless ninth. It couldn't get any crazier than that, right?
The most action to be seen in that scoreless ninth inning was the rain that had begun to pour. It was bad enough that they had to bring the tarp onto the field for a rain delay. It came at a key point of the game, too - which is a good thing and a bad thing. The first thing I thought was that the pitchers were going to get cold, unless they kept their pitching arms warm during the twenty-minute rain delay in the locker room. But this break also gave both teams a chance to regroup and get their minds right for the extra innings. The Chicago Cubs seemed to have used their time wisely, as they came out and scored runs in the top of the tenth, and went on to win the World Series.
"I told them I love them. I told them I'm proud of the way they overcame everything together. I told them everyone has to look in the mirror, and know everyone contributed to this season and to where we are at this point. I said,"I don't know how it's going to happen, how we're going to do it, but let's go out there and try to get a W."
It was Jason Heyward, the soft-spoken right fielder from Ridgewood, New Jersey, who rallied the troops during that rain delay. He was known as one of the quieter guys on the team, so when he spoke words of encouragement at that point of the game his message had more gravity than any of the more outspoken players could have had. Not only that, but Heyward was doing particularly poor in the World Series, tallying only three hits up to that point, and no RBIs. As an unexpected leader in that moment, he was able to get the team in the right mindset to go out there and win the biggest game of their lives.
The important thing to take away from this story is that anybody can be a leader in the right situation. In fact, the player who may not play a major role in impacting games via stats can be some of the most fit players to have an impact on the team. And probably one of the coolest things about Heyward stepping up in that moment was simply because he felt it was the right thing to do. It wasn't necessarily his job to be the voice of the team, but he felt it was his responsibility. His actions did not go unnoticed as his teammates were quick to pay their recognition when they were asked what gave their team the edge coming out of the break.