After this week's World Series victory, Madison Bumgarner isn't just a San Francisco Giant. He's an American Giant.
The pitcher turned in one of the most memorable World Series performances ever, allowing only a single run in 21 innings while sealing two victories and saving another. His dominant five-inning relief appearance in Game 7 was undoubtedly one of the most incredible moments in the history of baseball. Bumgarner put the franchise on his back, and along the way, taught us a few tips on how to rally a team--both on and off the field.
Here are just four tips for how to lead like Bumgarner:
Lead by example. Bumgarner's World Series was truly legendary, the likes of which we've really never seen before and will likely never see again--and he walked the walk without talking the talk. The pitcher never once spoke out to the media claiming he would be the savior of the Giants or predicting a third ring in five years. He let his big left arm speak for him, and the rest of the team followed. "He is so calm that it leaks into you," right fielder Hunter Pence told Sports Illustrated. "So confident that it leaks into us."
Confidence is key. Pence brings up a good point: Belief can rub off. If you know you can do something, your team is likely to believe it too. While speaking to the press before Game 7, Bumgarner was asked how many pitches he might be able to throw after a 117-pitch complete game shutout two days prior. "Maybe 200," the lefty deadpanned (he ended up throwing 68).
Do what it takes. There's a reason starting pitchers typically take the mound every five days. Pitching is really, really hard--both mentally and on the body. But if you know you can rest after you've completed your short-term goal, consider following Bumgarner's example. Immediately after the game, the pitcher was still too soaked in adrenaline to feel the fatigue--and he said so on national television. But later in the clubhouse, he admitted to being human. "You know what, I can't lie to you anymore," he said. "I'm a little tired now."
Accept praise graciously. After the game, Bumgarner was presented the World Series most valuable player trophy and a new pickup truck from Rikk Wilde, a clearly-nervous local Chevrolet zone manager. Wilde sweated through his lines, stumbling over the words, "It combines class-winning and leading, you know, technology and stuff." The gaffe predictably went viral (though Chevy is absolutely making the most of it). But through it all, Bumgarner remained gracious and polite. Maybe he's the most unflappable human in the world, or maybe he was too tired to even realize what was going on--but that's how you accept praise.