Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pick Me Out A Winner, Bobby

I've gotten a few emails over the last couple of weeks about my motivational speech about hawks.  Granted, most have asked me to stick to curmudgeonly observations.  However, at least a couple of folks wanted to know what my Corporate Rate is.  Rather than jump right into the quote for bringing Jeff Skiver to your next benefit, let me seed my Motivational Speaker resume with another example of my work..... and a VERY high profile example at that.

Below is the text of the speech I gave at halftime of the 2007 AFC Championship Game when my Indianapolis Colts were losing 21-6 to the evil New England Patriots.  As many Skiving Off readers know I had lost my beloved dog Simon six days before this game was played, and most people listening to my speech were expecting an exhortation to "Win One for Simon."  Instead, I went with the version below, and I believe it was quite effective.  As Wikipedia now documents, the Colts "18-point comeback was the largest ever in an NFL conference championship game, and tied the record for the fourth largest NFL postseason comeback."  (The Colts scored 3 points at the close of the 2nd quarter to cut the lead from 18 to 15 at halftime.)

Gentlemen, today I'm going to share with you a prize.  A true prize.  Today I am going to give you the greatest bar bet/trivia question known to the sports kingdom.

In the movie version of The Natural, what is the name of the bat Roy Hobbs uses to hit the Pennant Winning home run? 

When you ask this trivia question to someone you will get one of three possible responses:
a)  80% of the people will stare blankly with no clue
b)  18% will confidently blurt out the incorrect answer "WONDERBOY!!!!!"
c)  2% will smile and tell you that is a trick question and then correctly answer, "Savoy Special"

Throughout the movie, Roy Hobbs' hitting exploits are done with Wonderboy, the bat he hand made when he was still a boy living on his family's farm.  At the height of his heroic single season in the Majors, Roy even takes the time to help chubby bat boy, Bobby Savoy, carve a bat of his own that Bobby names "Savoy Special." 

Every man in the Colts locker room knows what it means to be worshipped as a hero by fat little kids.  But that's not what is important right now.  In the closing moments of that film, Roy Hobbs stood at home plate representing the winning run in a game that would send his team to the championship.  And in his hands he held his trusted bat, WONDERBOY, who had been with him for 25 years.  And when he lashed out at the ball with Wonderboy, he sent the ball over the fence.... but just foul. Then, when he turned around to go back and take another cut, he saw that Wonderboy had split in two.

Gentlemen, that is my question for you today:  What do you do, when Wonderboy is gone?  It is a touching moment in the movie when fat little Bobby Savoy runs out onto the field to take the broken bat away.  Roy hands his mortally wounded friend and partner, Wonderboy, over to the portly bat boy and says, "Go pick me out a winner, Bobby."  Bobby returns with Savoy Special, the bat he and the heroic Mr. Hobbs made together, and Roy returns to the batter's box to take another swing.

There is a life lesson here about handling fame and good fortune.  It adds flavor to the movie's plot that the relationship the Hero kindled with the lowly, seemingly unimportant boy can pay dividends when the hero most needed a friend.

It's easier to be a hero when you're healthy.  It's easier to be a hero when you hold a commanding lead.  It's easier to be a hero, when you're holding Wonderboy, the biggest gun in the arsenal.  But the measure of a Champion... indeed, the measure of a Man is what he does when Wonderboy breaks.

Out on that field the score shows the Patriots with 21 points and the Colts with 6.  I think it is clear to all of us that at this point in our season of destiny we are looking at the shattered pieces of Wonderboy.  But Wonderboy was only a tool.  And regardless of whether he held Wonderboy or Savoy Special, Roy Hobbs had the heart of a champion.  And if we X-rayed every person in this locker room we would see that same Champion's Heart beating.  We are down 15 points.  We are looking at the shattered dreams of Wonderboy lying in the dirt.  But our destiny doesn't lay in the dirt..... it courses through our veins, propelled by the Champion's Heart. 

Today's victory is NOT for our owner, Mr. Irsay.  Today's victory is NOT for our parents and families who sacrificed to help us.  Today's victory is NOT for the people of Indianapolis.  Today's victory is for harmony in the universe.  Gentlemen, it is your DESTINY to win today; anything less will create a divine disturbance in the universe.  See that victory in your mind, and go back to that field and fulfill your destiny. 

(Clicking above will play the scene from the film.)

It should be noted that at halftime of the AFC Championship Game on January 21st of 2007, I gave the above speech to my wife, Gail, and our surviving dog, Abby, in the living room of our home in Holland, Michigan.  I have no idea what speech Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy provided to the team down at the RCA dome in Indianapolis.  But it doesn't matter.  I've always known that it was MY speech and the spirit of the movie version of Roy Hobbs that propelled the Colts to their second half comeback and carried them through to their destiny of being Super Bowl XLI Champions.

That's what I do.... I motivate Champions.  Also, sometimes I take credit for Championships that I really had nothing to do with.  It's up to the readers to decide just how important my role really was.  However, my mom says I was key to the Colts winning the Super Bowl.

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