This years World Series between the Indians and the Cubs was an exciting display of talent from both teams and game 7 was everything sports fans could’ve asked for. There were so many players who “came to bat” for their teams and arguably many of them could have been selected as the MVP. I had the privilege to catch former New York Yankee Jim Leyritz and get his take on one of the greatest World Series matches ever. Here’s how it went:
Jay: During this year’s pennant race, it seemed that the most beloved player was the Cubs backup catcher David Ross. You were a catcher in the major leagues for 11 years, what’s so unique about the catcher position?
Jim: That’s a great point Jay and there’s a lot to be said about how well David Ross performed during this past season. Many times, the catcher isn’t putting up the flashy plays, but the pitcher knows that it’s completely up to him to set the stage. Over the years we’ve seen many great players in many different sports who have gone into coaching when their careers were over and were surprisingly a complete failure. However, many great catchers have gone into coaching and have been extremely successful. Much of that is because it’s our job to stay completely in tuned to each pitcher and help them achieve their best. Having the ability to understand what areas others are struggling with and help them maximize their strengths, is one of the most powerful skills you can learn as a leader whether it’s in sports, business or life. Watching the way David played I have no doubt that his leadership meant a lot to the players on the team both on the field and in the club house.
Jay: With the advancement of social media today, more players get involved in business even during their careers. What was it like during your playing days?
Jim: There’s no question about it and I think that for the most part it’s a good thing. During my playing days, our mentality was, there was nothing more important than the game on the field. If you were thinking about your marketing dollars during the season that was considered a lack of focus. However, players today make so much more than when I played, they need knowledge and guidance on how to best manage their finances and so in many ways they’re forced to pay attention to these things during the season as well. The advantage is that with social media and technology, players have all the information they need at their fingertips. I went to college for 3 years to learn about marketing which has helped me succeed in what I do and today players can take courses and interact with industry leaders right from there phones’. Different times indeed, on the one hand it has the potential to completely distract you from the game, but if used properly it can give you an incredible advantage and I think more players will benefit from it than be harmed by it.
Jay: To your point that players make so much more today than when you played, has that impacted the game itself?
Jim: In a certain sense, it has, particularly in all the new regulations you see happening in baseball as well as football. Many people complain about the game changing too much and that these changes somehow indicate that players aren’t as tough as they used to be. As a former player let me tell you, it has nothing to do with the players not being tough. I dare anyone to make it through the long grind of 162 game baseball season, or an 80-game basketball season, or even a full course of golf. I personally tried getting through the gulf course while I was in top shape as a player and I had a hard time, let alone running the course five times a week!
Jay: How much work goes into preparing yourself to be physically fit to play the game at a professional level?
Jim: The amount of work and preparation it takes to be athletically fit to play any sport is tremendous and any athlete that you see on the field doesn’t lack any level of toughness. The regulations you see are because of the amount of money these players are being paid and the league needs to protect their investments. The amount of money players make today is 10x what I made as a player and in many cases, it’s more. Much of that is accredited to the power that the player’s union has. While some of owners may disparage the union for the power they’ve given to players, but the truth is that without the players they’d have nothing. Sports is an entertainment business and the players are why millions of people around the world pay hard earned money to relax to America’s favorite pastime- Sports!
After a successful 11-year career in the Big Leagues, Jim Leyritz has channeled his passion and commitment for helping others into raising money and awareness for numerous charitable organizations. With a deep-rooted connection to New York, Jim is involved in myriad of causes and particularly enjoys working with charities dedicated to helping children and at-risk youth.