Forget All Those Excuses and Just Go out and Play the Game

Article excerpt

Byline: Bob Frisk Asst. Managing Editor/Sports

There's one image I will carry away from this current baseball season that has nothing to do with home runs.

Although the majestic drives of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa created powerful pictures and prose, the scene I will remember most came in a funeral-like locker room in Milwaukee.

I wasn't there personally on that September afternoon, but I saw enough television replays to feel like I was part of what transpired.

In fact, it's the one image I wish every high school athlete could have seen because it delivered such a strong message on how to deal with a very difficult situation.

When Cubs outfielder Brant Brown dropped a flyball that sent 3 runs across the plate in the bottom of the ninth for a stunning 8-7 Brewers victory, I didn't know what to expect in the postgame interviews.

Would somebody actually try to blame the sun or the wind - or both?

What I saw was a very mature young man handle a very demanding situation with a tremendous amount of class.

"There are no excuses," Brown said, looking directly at the reporters and cameras. "I have to face it. I lost the game for us. I clanked it. There were no factors out there. I blew it."

No excuses.

Listen up, young athletes.

There are more excuses surrounding sports performances than there are balls and bats and helmets and shoulder pads and nets and goals.

None of them are worth anything.

When the Cubs lost the opening playoff game to Atlanta, the first thing a Chicago TV announcer suggested in the postgame analysis was "fatigue" from the Monday game with the Giants and travel and ...

Please, no excuses.

Atlanta pitcher John Smoltz was just much better that day. Period.

Then there was the strike zone debate and all the "breaks" Atlanta's pitchers were getting.

I'm accustomed to excuses from our Chicago TV types, whose lack of professionalism at times is mind-boggling for a major market, but I never want to hear any excuses from our young athletes.

"Coach, my stomach is upset."

"Coach, I have a headache."

"Coach, I'm tired."

"Coach, the field conditions ... "

"Coach, the referee ... "

"Coach, I would have caught the ball, but the right fielder called for it so I got out of the way."

"Coach, the sun got in my eyes."

I will be the first to admit that the youngest athletes use excuses to save face.

You don't want to confront your parents or the coach unless you feel you can come up with an alibi for this self-perceived humiliation. …