Mind Over Sports

Could the Houston Astros have won the World Series had their manager tapped into his team’s belief system?

Posted on: October 31, 2019

What athletes believe to be true is true for them, regardless of how it plays out in the real world. If a basketball player believes that watching a video of himself or herself making free throw after free throw after free throw will improve his or her accuracy at the free throw line, it will. Providing, of course, that he or she has the skill level.

Once when the University of Missouri football team was playing the University of Oklahoma, the Tigers were trailing by 21 points at half-time. But during the third quarter Oklahoma’s All-American quarterback sustained a game-ending injury and had to be carried off the field. His injury energized the MU offense which proceeded to score three touchdowns, only to lose the game by a single point. The Tigers’ offensive unit hadn’t changed, but their belief they could win did.

Fast forward to last night’s World Series game between the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals.

According to the New York Times, “The Astros’ star pitcher Zack Greinke had a stellar outing, but sputtered in the seventh inning. He gave up a home run and was eventually charged with two hits and two earned runs over six and one-third innings…Taking no chances, Astros’ manager AJ Hinch pulled Greinke from the game as Houston’s lead had shrunk to 2-1. He called on Will Harris from the bullpen and the move proved disastrous, as Howie Kendrick took Harris deep, giving the Nationals a shocking 3-2 lead.”

So the question is, what if manager AJ Hinch had made the decision to call on Astro’s star pitcher Gerrit Cole to enter the game instead of Will Harris? Though Cole pitched Sunday night it was assumed he would undoubtedly come out of the bullpen if needed. How would that move have affected the belief system of the Houston Astros players? It’s possible that by having Cole as their pitcher they would suddenly be energized, believing they had a chance to win with Cole on the mound. And who knows? They might have won. But I guess we’ll never know. But what we do know is that the mind is an amazing tool, especially when it comes to sports.


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