Mind Over Sports

Posts Tagged ‘George Brett

What takes place away from the baseball diamond affects what takes place on the baseball diamond. Over the last two seasons Philadelphia Phillies’ Ryan Howard’s performance has dropped off considerably and I’ve often wondered what the problem might have been. The “problem” recently became public knowledge when Howard reached a legal settlement with his family. According to the Associated Press: “Phillies slugger Ryan Howard has settled a legal battle with his family over its management of his finances and business affairs.” There are still some lingering problems since his father, Ron Howard, maintains that he should receive $5 million himself and that Cheryl Howard, Ryan’s mother, should receive $5 million also. Too bad Ryan didn’t hire Bobby Brett, George Brett’s brother, when he first began making those big bucks. Bobby is not only totally honest but is also a financial genius. No wonder George was so successful at the plate. He was never worried about his personal finances the way Ryan has been.

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“Focusing” is a mental state where no emotional issues distract an athlete’s performance. Successful athletes are often described as focused, concentrating complete attention on the job at hand.

To achieve focusing a person must resolve emotional issues; merely exposing them isn’t enough. For small issues the process may be simple: before an event a recreational player might write down things that are supposed to be done afterward, such as bring home a gallon of milk or return a book. That way trying to remember those obligations during the event won’t subconsciously distract the player. Such distractions can even harm professional athletes.

Former St. Louis Cardinals infielder Mike Tyson (no relation) recounted a bases-loaded mound conference requested by pitcher Al Hrabosky. Hrabosky “told me he had to go somewhere after the game, and asked me if I still had the rental car. He asked if he could borrow it.”

When the divorce of Mets first basemen Keith Hernandez became final on a Monday, in his next seven at-bats he hit three home runs and drove in nine. “Maybe I should get divorced every day,” he said. “I’d be broke, but I’d be in the Hall of Fame.” Daily divorce may be unnecessary, but Hernandez obviously needed to shift his focus from marital strife to baseball. His basic skill didn’t change, but his focus changed and allowed him to reach his skill level.

When George Brett and Jamie Quirk were playing for the Kansas City Royals, a problem arose that affected both of them. By way of background, Brett and Quirk came up through the minors together and were as close as two human beings could be. Then, after they made it into the majors, Quirk married and Brett and Quirk’s new wife didn’t get along. One source told me it was probably because of Brett’s jealousy. After all those years together, Brett was now alone and Quirk had his own life with a wife. The two grew apart and had little contact. At that time, I happened to have a friend who knew Brett and I suggested that she point out to George that it is in his best interest to handle this issue, which, I believed, was affecting his performance. She conveyed my message to him and soon after, on June 5, 1988, it was reported in The Kansas City Star that Jamie Quirk drove George to the ballpark, and on that same day Brett hit two home runs, a triple and a single.

By relinquishing emotional issues that obstruct concentration, an athlete can focus on a sports event. Focused athletes are more likely to perform at their skill level. Such focusing provides an advantage over competitors who may be inherently more talented but who fail to reach their skill level because they have not come to completion with emotional issues in their lives.

“Focusing” is a mental state where no emotional issues distract an athlete’s performance. Successful athletes are often described as focused, concentrating complete attention on the job at hand.

To achieve focusing a person must resolve emotional issues; merely exposing them isn’t enough. For small issues the process may be simple: before an event a recreational player might write down things that are supposed to be done afterward, such as bring home a gallon of milk or return a book. That way trying to remember those obligations during the event won’t subconsciously distract the player. Such distractions can even harm professional athletes.

Former St. Louis Cardinals infielder Mike Tyson (no relation) recounted a bases-loaded mound conference requested by pitcher Al Hrabosky. Hrabosky “told me he had to go somewhere after the game, and asked me if I still had the rental car. He asked if he could borrow it.”

When the divorce of Mets first basemen Keith Hernandez became final on a Monday, in his next seven at-bats he hit three home runs and drove in nine. “Maybe I should get divorced every day,” he said. “I’d be broke, but I’d be in the Hall of Fame.” Daily divorce may be unnecessary, but Hernandez obviously needed to shift his focus from marital strife to baseball. His basic skill didn’t change, but his focus changed and allowed him to reach his skill level.

When George Brett and Jamie Quirk were playing for the Kansas City Royals, a problem arose that affected both of them. By way of background, Brett and Quirk came up through the minors together and were as close as two human beings could be. Then, after they made it into the majors, Quirk married and Brett and Quirk’s new wife didn’t get along. One source told me it was probably because of Brett’s jealousy. After all those years together, Brett was now alone and Quirk had his own life with a wife. The two grew apart and had little contact. At that time, I happened to have a friend who knew Brett and I suggested that she point out to George that it is in his best interest to handle this issue, which, I believed, was affecting his performance. She conveyed my message to him and soon after, on June 5, 1988, it was reported in The Kansas City Star that Jamie Quirk drove George to the ballpark, and on that same day Brett hit two home runs, a triple and a single.

By relinquishing emotional issues that obstruct concentration, an athlete can focus on a sports event. Focused athletes are more likely to perform at their skill level. Such focusing provides an advantage over competitors who may be inherently more talented but who fail to reach their skill level because they have not come to completion with emotional issues in their lives.

This is a question often raised and the answer is pretty simple. They don’t have a Bobby Brett to handle their finances, as he did for his brother George. When George was playing for the Kansas City Royals, I lived in Kansas City and owned an advertising agency and on occasion hired George to do commercials for my clients. And in order to get that accomplished, I had to go through Bobby, who was his financial adviser and confident. Bobby was a tough person to deal with but he was always straight forward with me and was always truthful. And I believe it was because of his diligence in handling George’s cash flow that helped George to be as successful as he was. When he came to bat, he never worried about his finances because he knew he had Bobby in his corner. Today, both are multi-millionaires and own a couple of minor league baseball franchises in the northwest United States.

It’s too bad Warren Sapp, Michael Vick, Mike Tyson, Johnny Unitas, Bjorn Borg and Mark Brunell didn’t have a Bobby in their corner. It’s been estimated that 78% of all NFL players will declare bankruptcy or face joblessness and divorce a mere two years after they finish their careers.

Citing the rate at which pro athletes declare bankruptcy after their professional careers end, former Major League Baseball player Doug Glanville wrote in one of his magazine columns that the problem lies with the speed at which the money comes in. He advises strong financial and life planning for athletes to avoid money woes after the playing stops. And I advise that they find someone like Bobby to cover their backs.

A lawsuit recently filed in federal court in Des Moines claims Spokane Valley, Wash.-based Brett Bros. Sports International Inc. has falsely claimed its Ionic Necklaces help customers relieve pain in the neck, shoulders and upper back, recover from sports fatigue and improve focus. According to the lawsuit, the company has also falsely claimed its bracelets, which include two roller magnets, would relieve wrist, hand and elbow pain.
So the question arises: Is there any validity to the claim made by the lawsuit. From my perspective I would say: No.
By way of background, we’ve all heard and read about the “Placebo Effect” and there is a basis for this type of psychological achievement. In his book, “The Silent Pulse,” George Leonard refers to this process as “positive physical transformation” dealing with the power of, what he calls, “Intentionality.” This is often identified as the placebo effect, an effect that is derived not from the potion but from the process, which is one of “authorization” (And by the way, there’s also a “Nocebo effect” which is a negative physical transformation. That is, when expectations are negative – or low – the authorization has the opposite effect.)
With the placebo effect, in matters of health, the physician simply authorizes the patients to do what they are already capable of doing…themselves. And the greater the perception of the physician, or trainer, or the coach, the more powerful the potion.
In Norman Cousin’s book, “Head First” it’s pretty clearly documented how the power of our beliefs impacts our bodies. For example, Mr. Cousins refers to a study conducted in England where 411 cancer patients were given chemotherapy tablets and told that one of the effects of the pill was that their hair would fall out. Thirty percent of the patients were given sugar pills, and their hair fell out.
Depak Chopra is a medical doctor who was educated in Boston and has practiced Endocrinology since 1971. He is former Chief of Staff of New England Memorial Hospital in Stoneham, Massachusetts and has written some excellent books on the subject of the relationship of the mind to health. Dr. Chopra has written: “What a patient believes can be the deciding factor in his or her disease…everything the physician does (including the most advanced surgery or the most powerful drugs) is secondary. A great deal of credit goes to the art of medicine which should go to the art of belief.”
Today, at the Harvard Medical School, there is extensive research being conducted regarding the power of the placebo under the watchful eye of its director, Ted Kaptchuk, who recently returned from Asia after studying Chinese medicine for a number of years.
So what does all this mean as related to the lawsuit against George Brett?  Simply put, it means that your beliefs have a powerful effect on your life, and your health, and that individuals purchasing one of Brett’s necklaces or bracelets will find it highly beneficial if they are having severe pain and BELIEVE that it will be highly beneficial.  From my perspective, the individual (or individuals) who filed the lawsuit were probably not in as great pain and were more than likely dubious from the outset as to whether or not the necklaces and bracelets worked, and because of that belief, they didn’t.  There’s a high correlation between the severity of the pain (and the person authorizing the treatment) and the effectiveness of the product.  So I’m sure in the coming months Brett’s attorneys will find many witnesses who swear to the effectiveness of the necklaces and bracelets.  Why?  Because they had a strong belief (even before purchasing them) that they would work.  That, coupled with the fact they were experiencing great pain.

In the June 27, 2011 issue of USA Today, ex-NFL coach Joe Gibbs said he witnessed the following scene too many times: “A player would be upset with his contract (and) we’d be in serious discussions…and during the conversation it dawns on you, ‘Are you in financial trouble?’ That happens over and over again…it plays out a lot.” Gibbs also said: “I definitely feel like anybody that’s worried about their finances, it’ll affect every part of your life…Certainly your career and your focus…it’s an awful feeling to have a financial mess. It carries over to every part of your life.”

Including, how you perform on the field. For those of you who are familiar with my column, you know that I’ve always maintained that what takes place off the field of competition affects what takes place on the field of competition. I’ve used many examples in the past and a physician friend of mine, who is quite knowledgeable about the field of medicine, said: “Yes, Marvin, but it’s strictly anecdotal.” And he’s right. There really isn’t any research to back up my theory that I’ve been espousing for the past 25 years.

A good example is George Brett. Few people realize that George had a secret weapon when he came to bat. His brother, Bobby, handled all his finances and made sure that the money was put away for safe keeping. Today, they are both millionaires and own a couple of baseball franchises in the northwest part of the country.

And so, you have to ask: If a financial mess can negatively affect an athlete’s performance, what about a divorce, or an extra-marital affair, or drugs. There’s no question that Casey Stengel was right when he said: “Most ball games are lost, not won.”


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