As the end of the pro baseball season nears, several teams seem like a lock to reach the playoffs. At the same time, many teams will not make the post-season. So how does this second group of teams stay focused over the last few weeks of the season? They are not a part of the pennant race, but they still have several games to play. You might expect them to pack up and quit and say they have nothing to play for, but that's not the case at all. Every team in baseball still has plenty to play for.
Pride: Every big-time athlete plays with a sense of pride, especially in the pros. These athletes got where they are today by constantly working hard and staying dedicated to their sport. Pro baseball players do their best every time out, whether they are winning or losing. Even during a tough season when things aren't going well, it's important to keep trying hard. You can always take pride in something if you try your best. No matter whether your team wins the World Series or finishes in last place, if you try your best you feel like you accomplished something. Big league ballplayers know this, which is one of the reasons why they stay competitive until the very last day of the season.
Sportsmanship: It's also important to respect the efforts of the opposing players. Athletes show up for a game with the expectation that the competition will be challenging. If somebody doesn't put in the maximum effort, the game isn't as fun for everybody, including the fans. Baseball is at its best when the games are hard-fought and well-played. Even when a team is out of the playoff race, the players can still enjoy the spirit of a competitive game.
Next year: "Wait 'til next year!" is a popular saying for teams who have lost more games than they've won. Not only is it common, but it's true. Even if they aren't going to make the playoffs, players can still go out and improve. Every time they take the field they get better, and by playing hard through the end of the season they get better for next year. Also, at the end of the regular season, many teams call up young players from the minor leagues. These players consider these September call-ups as auditions for next season, an opportunity to show that they can play on the big league level. A young player who performs well in September gains the inside track on a spot on the team next season.
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