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What the Washington Capitals Can Learn From Cal Ripken Jr.

Posted May 20, 2013

Sunday afternoon, I had the pleasure of attending the Commencement for the class of 2013 at the University of Maryland. It was an awesome day for the graduates and their parents, myself included, as my son graduated with a BS in kinesiology with honors. Quite a day. But I was grateful that the graduating class chose our region’s original “Great 8,” Cal Ripken, Jr., to give the commencement address.

Ripken, a man of character and perseverance, spoke of a time when he had a bad attitude about baseball. He told the graduates, “When I struck out, it was the umpire’s fault. When I didn’t get a hit, it was my bat’s fault. When I made a fielding error, it was my glove’s fault.” (Sound familiar?) Ripken said he would get so mad he would throw his helmet and put on quite a show (Ring any bells?). It wasn’t until one day a veteran player grabbed him by the arm, pulled him aside and said, “Listen, we don’t do that here.” It was then that Ripken knew that he had to adjust his attitude. He began to take responsibility, not make excuses for strike outs and bad plays. He had to face it to fix it. That’s what made him a great player and a great leader.

Maybe the Caps’ “Great 8” could learn a lesson from someone older and wiser, who has been there and done that in professional sports. Alex Ovechkin needs a mentor to grab him by the arm, pull him aside and say, “Listen, we don’t do that here. We don’t make excuses. We face our faults and fix them.” But who? Oates? Even the front office seems to be catering to the “we were robbed” mentality.

Someone in the Caps’ organization has got to get a grip on the situation. For the Caps to be successful, a true leader, the likes of Ripken, must emerge. Until that happens, Caps’ fans are in for the same song and dance every year. And in the words of Cal Ripken, Jr., a truly “Great 8,” “Your failures become valuable experiences. Learn from them.”

Read more about Cal Ripken Jr.’s speech at our brother site, Orioles Outsider.

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