Mind Over Sports

Posts Tagged ‘Major League Baseball

There are a number of reasons why the Pittsburgh Pirates will be in (and should win) the World Series. First and foremost they have some of the best players in major league baseball, including Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, Josh Harrison, Pedro Alverez, Gregory Polanco and one of baseball’s top closers in Mark Melancon. But they also have the best manager in major league baseball: Clint Hurdle. Those managers who have had adversity in their lives, as Hurdle has, have the greatest empathy for their players. Hurdle genuinely cares about his players as human beings first and then as athletic performers. And his players know it. It’s something you can’t fake. And if you combine that with his vast knowledge of baseball, plus the talented ballplayers he has on his team…you have a winning combination.

A friend of mine who used to play baseball told me that it’s his understanding that quite a few Major League Baseball players today, those who are looking for that “edge,” are using Adderall, a drug that speeds up the brain function so that a 95 mile per hour fastball appears to come across the plate at a much slower speed. He said that if the drug had been available when he played he might have made it with a major league team. Adderall, as many know, is a drug normally used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy sleep disorders.   Even though it’s been banned in Major League Baseball recent reports are that it’s use is rising as a means of improving batting performance. Unfortunately it carries with it a number of side effects including a suppressed sexual drive. So even though a player might be using it to make more money he could also be jeopardizing his relationship with his wife at home.

With the 2014 NFL Draft coming up, the media, including The New YorkTimes, are looking back at the 1998 draft when Ryan Leaf and Peyton Manning were the number one and number two draft choices. Peyton was drafted by the Colts, Ryan by the Chargers. The media is questioning why Ryan’s career fizzled and why Peyton’s took off. It’s easy to blame the athlete but we, the public, are almost never privy to what may have gone on behind the scenes between Ryan and his San Diego Coaches that could have caused his career to collapse.

I reside in Springfield, Missouri, where the Missouri State University’s baseball team is often visited by major league scouts. On one such occasion I noticed an African-American man who was scouting for the Atlanta Braves. Walter and I struck up a conversation and he told me he used to use his 6’ 4” frame and 230 lbs to throw 90 mile per hour fastballs. He had a certain style of pitching that had served him well throughout high school and college. After graduating, he was drafted by one of the major league baseball teams and a pitching coach was assigned to help him. Unfortunately, his new pitching coach immediately tried to change his style of throwing, which didn’t sit well with Walter. Instead of standing up to his coach he acquiesced and tried to change his style of pitching but to no avail. Soon, he was released by the team and in retrospect, he now feels it was a mistake not to speak up and attempt to change his coach’s approach to training him. This is a good example of what former major league manager Whitey Herzog once said (and I’m paraphrasing): “Very often the team cuts the player when they should have gotten rid of the coach.”

I read in today’s newspaper that Noel Arguelles, who defected from the Cuban junior national team while in Canada and signed with the Kansas City Royals in 2009 for $6.9 Million, is considered a bust. Though it’s true that he’s had some shoulder problems, there’s also the possibility that he is concerned for his family that he left behind in Cuba and that these circumstances are weighing heavily on him and could be affecting his performance. This is very common among Cuban ballplayers who defect. When Yeonis Cespedes defected and joined the Oakland Athletics, he left behind his 2-year old son the mother of his son. When he won the 2013 Home Run Derby, it happened right after he had talked with his son in Cuba by phone. Any major league baseball team who signs a Cuban ballplayer who has defected, should do everything within their power to bring the player’s family to America as soon as possible. The benefits will show up immediately in the player’s performance. According to Wikipedia, “while some players who defect succeed in obtaining multi-million dollar contracts to play in MLB, many receive only minor league contracts and do not reach MLB. Players are often separated from their families, as Cuba often denies exit visas to the families of players who defected. This can lead to severed relationships, such as between Jorge Toca and the mother of his son.”

It’s been said that you can easily judge the character of others by how they treat those who can do nothing for them or to them. Former major league baseball pitcher Curt Schilling might be a prime example. My understanding is (and I could be wrong) that when he was a player he treated others around him badly and was not well-liked by his teammates. If true, then what is happening in his personal life now would be an excellent example of the psi factor at work. The psi factor (Psycho Self-Imagery) maintains basically that “what goes around comes around” and that people who treat other people badly will eventually have to pay the piper. According to an article in USA Today: “A Rhode Island judge is allowing most of a state agency’s lawsuit against ex-major league pitcher Curt Schilling and executives at his failed video game company to move forward. Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein on Wednesday issued a 99-page decision that allows the state Economic Development Corp. to sue Schilling, former 38 Studios executives, former EDC officials and others, saying they misled the agency’s board into approving a $75 million state loan guarantee for the company. The company filed for bankruptcy last year, leaving the state on the hook for more than $100 million.” If Schilling loses the lawsuit, he will probably have to file for personal bankruptcy.


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