There’s always something to howl about

Experts Smexperts – It’s About Results – Go Tear ‘Em a New One!

I love it when life presents an example in real time, don’t you? In pro sports, basketball included, the surprise superstar, even if it’s only potential, is fairly rare. What with video tape, computers, and sophisticated scouting systems, it’s very difficult for a player with serious game to fall through the cracks. Add so-called ‘super scouts’ to the menu, and it becomes even more unlikely.

Though I’m open to your take, in my lifetime, the biggest ‘miss’ in pro sports has been recently retired Major League Baseball catcher Mike Piazza. The only reason he was drafted at all was cuz his Godfather, Tommy Lasorda, as a favor to Mike’s dad, called his name in the 62nd round of the 1988 Amateur Draft. Apparently ALL of baseball’s vaunted experts, including their super scouts, deemed the 1,389 players taken before him as having superior potential.

How wrong were they?

He retired in May of ’08 after having hit more homers than any MLB catcher who ever wore a uniform. More than Yogi Berra. More than Johnny Bench. More than Carlton Fisk. More than all of ‘em. There’ve been just 10 players in the history of Major League Baseball who’ve hit 400 home runs while sportin’ a lifetime batting average over .300 — while never striking out more than 100 times in a season. Piazza’s a member of that wicked elite group.

The Captain Obvious statement of the year is that he’s a slam dunk first ballot Hall of Famer when his name comes up in the next year or two.

He was drafted as a favor. Baseball’s brain trust appraised his talent as virtually without value. Think about it. Every single MLB team drafted over 40 players they thought had more potential to at least reach the Bigs than did Mike Piazza.

So much for reliable talent evaluation. ‘Course, there are the excuse makers who now say, in their defense, that he never showed the incredible talent he demonstrated so soon thereafter. We’ve all heard of late bloomers. Shoot, I are one. But a sure first ballot Hall of Famer never shows even one scout a whisper of a hint that maybe he’s as good as the 1,000th guy taken in that year’s draft?

The experts are now makin’ the same lame excuses about why they passed on Jeremy Lin. The difference? Lin absolutely showed what he could be since high school. He’s played lights out everywhere he’s been given the ball. When he’s at the helm, his team wins. His stats at Harvard are unmatched in the basketball history of the school. His high school in Palo Alto was in Stanford’s backyard. All they did with Lin as their point guard was win win win. Yet, Standford’s brain trust didn’t even deem him skilled enough for a scholarship. So much for the geniuses there. It’s called results. All he does is produce wins. Maybe the most impressive stat he’s produced so far is found in the Knicks’ team field goal percentage. (% of attempted shots made.) Around 43% before Lin. About 64% in his first 7-8 games with him at point guard.

Oh, did I mention the team’s two super stars were outa the lineup for all but two of those games? Only one is back now. In his first eight games with Lin controlling the action at point guard, the Knicks won all but one. With their two superstars, but sans Lin, they were winning only about a third of the time. Hhmmm.

The Warriors passed on him, as did the Rockets. To be fair, his days with the Knicks were probably nearing an end ’til both their superstars were snatched from the starting lineup due to an injury and a tragic death in the family.

Ultimately it’s never about anything but results.

I used Piazza and Lin cuz they were/are pro athletes, and cuz I could. I also chose them as examples of those who, for whatever reason(s) were reckoned by ‘experts’ as lacking in essential skill sets.

Ever felt you’ve been underestimated?

Boy, I sure have. As the boss’s son, my career began being measured by a bar so high I couldn’t relate to it or begin to understand it, much less aspire to meet it. At 18 years old, I wasn’t five months past my senior freakin’ prom. My best defense (unknown to me at the time), was being so massively ignorant I never realized I shoulda been scared @%#*less. Other agents mistook my ignorance-based bliss for fearlessness. What a farce. It’s funny now, but back then? I thank God for that ignorance.

Have those around you given you the distinct feeling they don’t expect you to excel? Have you accepted their apparent appraisal?

Long ago I learned pickin’ future big-time producers in a real estate office is a worthless endeavor. I’ve seen housewives with no experience whatsoever explode with production. Seen a Chinese immigrant who barely spoke the language, and even then was scarcely understood, embarrass an entire company with his results.

I’ll never forget the meeting attended by all the offices. The brokerage owner was singing this guy’s praises when he heard another agent mutter under his breath, “Nobody can understand a word he says.” The owner quickly, and while laughin’ his ass off, retorted, “Well, tough guy, apparently the owners of the nine homes he listed last month understood him well enough.” The office erupted in laughter. That agent taught me much the next few years.

It’s about results.

Winners — big-time producers — aren’t picked. They emerge. Ever noticed that in anything in life, people wanna know the final result before anything else? It’s only when the final results are known, that they wanna know how they were produced. Johnny’s walkin’ home from his Little League game, and his buddy’s father next door sees him. What’s the first question he asks the kid? It’s ‘who won’? Right? Only then does he query the boy how he did personally.

How many potential athletes never made it to the Bigs in their sport cuz they bought in to how others assessed them? We’ll never know, but I imagine it’s been hundreds. A scout tells a high school kid he simply doesn’t ‘have what it takes’. The kid gives up, cuz the scout knows, right?

Nobody knows — except maybe you.

Sure, it’s cliché, but you know what you’re willing to do to succeed on a large scale. You also realize the only person who’s been holding you back is you. Experts can’t scout character. They can’t see heart. They don’t have the beginning of a clue what you’re capable of producing.

42 years in the business and I still can’t predictably pick two big time producers in a row. In fact, the next time I pick one out before everyone knows it, will be the first. All of us carry within us the seed of superstardom. The first step you can take to nurture that seed?

Stop listening to the morons who’ve already pigeonholed you. I’m here to tell ya they’re clueless.

Now — go tear ‘em a new one!

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