In a world where understanding can be one of the most difficult things to grasp, a certain Royal understood the game of baseball so intently that many of us wouldn’t have even thought to recognize. The particular Royal isn’t your common household name, but has had a huge impact on the Royals’ success: Mike Jirschele. This month’s “C” word is COMPREHENSION, which, in the “C” You In The Major Leagues vernacular includes someone who applies instruction, has a strong aptitude, makes adjustments at appropriate times, and has the ability to adjust quickly. When thinking about that definition in regards to baseball, many players and instances come to mind, but “Jirsch” exemplified COMPREHENSION at a crucial time during the 2015 postseason.
No one who was in Kansas City during the 2014 and ‘15 World Series runs will forget those games anytime soon. It’s easy, though, to neglect to recognize certain plays that paved the way to the championship. One play in particular happened in Game 6 of the ALCS in 2015, when Lorenzo Cain scored from first on a single down the right field line off the bat of Eric Hosmer. Cain and Hosmer receive the credit for that — and rightly so — but a huge amount of credit goes to third-base coach Mike Jirschele and his COMPREHENSION.
With the ball being hit to right field, the runner has all the faith in his third base coach to relay what he wants him to do. Off the bat Cain knew he could make it to third, but leading up to this game Jirsch (as the coaches and players refer to him) kept reminding players to run hard because he could send them home in an unorthodox situation. An unorthodox situation is exactly what happened. Jirsch knew Toronto right fielder Jose Bautista liked to relay his throws from the outfield to second to hold the runner at first and third. In that moment, in a game of that magnitude with the speedy Cain on base, Jirsch trusted his instincts and sent Cain home.
Cain never showed a lick of slowing down and scored to take the lead in the bottom of the eighth. Wade Davis would do what he did best, close out games, and the Royals were on to the World Series for the second year in a row.
The level of awareness and preparation that Mike Jirschele had in that moment was off the charts. He comprehended what it took to win the game, he studied intently and trusted his instincts when sending Lorenzo Cain home in that moment. Lorenzo Cain will get the credit for the run, but the reason for that run scoring is equally on Mike Jirschele as it is on Lorenzo Cain. Together, they did what the team needed them to do to win the series. It truly was an example of COMPREHENSION in that situation.