What I Learned Watching the Houston Astros

As a lifelong Astros fan (I grew up with Biggio, Bagwell, and the rest of the Killer B’s  in the Astrodome), watching them win the World Series for the first time in franchise  history in 2017 was a dream come true. I may or may not have worn an astros T-shirt to court under my jacket one day.

Watching them as the 2018 season progressed, I noticed something about the Astros  defense: they were significantly more prepared for any and every base runner scenario than  most other teams in the MLB. Of course, I knew abstractly that all MLB teams run drills  for different base runner scenarios, but game 2 of a 3-game series against the Oakland  Athletics in early May 2018 was the first time I really ​noticed the extent of the Astros’ preparedness.

With a fragile lead against the A’s, Lance McCullers, Jr. faced a batter with runners  at first and third with only one out. The batter hit a ground ball toward second-baseman  Jose Altuve. Rather than taking the easy out at first and allowing the runner at third to  score, Altuve threw to second base, covered by shortstop Carlos Correa, who then threw  back to Yuli Gurriel at first for picture-perfect double play to end the inning and prevent a  the runner at third from scoring. It was easy to see from the confidence in the execution of  that play that they had drilled it until they could do it in their sleep.

Contrast that with the Texas Rangers who, bless them, were having a rough year  with a good portion of their starting lineup injured (I’m not meaning to disparage the  Rangers at all – I still love the Rangers and I’m still holding out that either they or the Astros will move from the AL to the NL and we’ll one day have an all-Texan World Series).  While still able to make some great plays, the Rangers clearly lacked the automatic,  natural precision that defined the Astros infield. And that, I realized, is what set the Astros apart from most other teams: they prepared for every situation imaginable until  executing the correct play became automatic; each player on the field ​knew exactly what to  do if the ball came to them based on where the runners were and how many outs they had,  all without having to actively ​think about it.

Believe it or not, there’s something to be learned from that in the legal profession.  The best lawyers try to put themselves in the mind of their opposing counsel and ask  themselves what they would do if they were defending the case instead of prosecuting it (or  vice versa). In essence, attorneys also prepare for every imaginable situation and decide  what to do in advance. This is especially true when preparing for contesting hearings. So  when your attorney asks you questions that seem irrelevant, hypothetical, just plain weird,  please be patient and indulge us. We’re running drills so that when something happens in  your case, we won’t have to ​think about how to respond; we’ll ​know

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