Cup Of Coffee

On the same day that Starbucks will close its coffee shops to perfect the art of making espresso, hundreds of young ballplayers look for a chance to drink up the experience of becoming a major leaguer.

Like a college frat party that exceeds maximum occupancy, most professional clubs dole out a plethora of invitations to Spring Training. When most camps break in February, the manager has already set the nucleus of the roster. The majority of spots up for grabs remain in the backup roles: a utility infielder, a fourth outfielder and specialty positions in the bullpen.

Life in Florida and Arizona mimics the movie “Major League.” At every major league facility you will find the veteran who wants to make it for one more season in the majors, the fresh-faced college star who starts to work his way up the ladder once again and the A-list stars who have one mission in the two months away from home: don’t get hurt.

Meanwhile, in corporate America, good luck getting a cup of Starbucks past 5:00 on Tuesday afternoon. All stores in the U.S. will close this evening as they will host a symposium on how to prepare the perfect cup of coffee. Reading the letter posted by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz on the main page of his website, the leader of the coffee revolution posts an unusual pep talk:

“We are Starbucks. We should be incredibly proud of what we have built. We are the worldwide leader of specialty coffee. And, believe me when I tell you, we are just getting started. We will overcome the difficult and humbling challenges we face, and will be stronger for it. You have my word on that.”

I’m guessing the first quarter report from company headquarters in Seattle won’t exactly give store employees a discount on the numerous Jack Johnson CDs on sale at the coffee shop.

Both situations face the same problem – sustaining enough excellence to stay on top of their game.

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