When Waylon Jennings sang about Luckenbach, Texas, he said it was “time to get back to the basics…” With all the uncertainty in the world today, his advice seems even more comforting - and rational - than ever.
On Sunday night, the Tampa Bay Rays took the field in the seventh game of the American League Championship Series, and earned a trip to the World Series. Watching the series, one of the story lines was whether the relatively inexperienced Rays would find a way to keep the solid play of the regular season intact as they faced the Red Sox, a more experienced team with two World Series titles over the past few years to its credit. The Rays had lost two consecutive games where they could have clinched the series, including one they appeared to have safely in hand late in the game.
Sunday, they did win the pivotal game, though, and it wasn’t with any flashy heroics or fluke plays. They won because they got good performances from players who had demonstrated a history of being team leaders. They played fundamental baseball, within their own limitations, to defeat the more experienced team. They got back to the basics of what they had done successfully all season.
Several weeks ago, the TCU Horned Frogs traveled to Norman, Okla., for a football game against one of the top teams in the country. In front of a packed stadium, on a national stage, the Frogs tried to do too much early in the game. They did not rely on the defensive fundamentals that had been so successful for them all season.
Later, the coaching staff admitted that during the first quarter of that game the team tried to do too much - players thought they had to go above and beyond how they normally played all based on the situation. The result was a loss.
Last week, the same TCU team defeated a top-10 team when they beat BYU 32-7. The difference was that the coaches and players emphasized the basic schemes that had been so successful during this season and others. Rather than try to be a team they are not, or to win in a way they had not previously, players responded with sound offense and defense, the way they’d been taught. They got back to simple basics and found success.
I recently read a newsletter article about how quickly advances in technology were entering the advertising market. Online advertising, the article said, was headed to places in terms of audience tracking and other features that we could only imagine a year ago. But in the current business market, lots of whistles and bells may not be the answer when it comes to marketing. The author encouraged advertising professionals to get back to the basics of their trade - capture an audience for the customer and help that customer generate revenue. Get back to the fundamentals of marketing - use the methods that have proven successful - and the results, measured in sales and ad revenue, will follow.
We cannot stop change, just as we can’t undo the score of a baseball or football game. That’s not easy for many of us to embrace, but it’s the reality we must accept. There is something to be said for staying true to basic fundamentals that have a proven track record - on the athletic field, in the marketplace and in our personal lives. Luckenbach may be the ideal image of the lifestyle of blue jeans and guitar picking, but most of us will never know that lifestyle. Jennings’ message of giving up the hustle and bustle for a much simpler life - the basics - applies to many parts of our lives, though, even today, in the changing world in which we find ourselves.
Bill Crist is associate publisher and general manager of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Wednesday. He may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.