Mind Over Sports

Posts Tagged ‘St. Louis Cardinals

I was watching the St. Louis Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game last night on television and half way through the 14th inning the Cardinals were ahead by one run. It was a home game for Pittsburgh and the crowd was definitely rooting for their team, loudly. Here’s how Pittsburgh’s Website described what happened next: “Pittsburgh still had a chance with the middle part of their batting order coming up in the bottom of the 14th inning. Second baseman Neil Walker led off with a single to center field. All-Star center fielder Andrew McCutchen followed and made the crowd erupt. After falling behind in the count 1-2, McCutchen drove the next pitch to deep center field to give the Pirates a 6-5 walk-off victory. PNC Park was electric at that moment as the Pirates had brought themselves closer to the division lead.” That hit also allowed McCutchen to extend his 17-game hitting streak.

If one believes in PK (Psychokinesis) as I do, then I would say that all those people in the PNC stadium rooting for McCutchen to hit a home run, not to mention the vast television audience who was thinking “home run.” actually created that home run by willing it to happen.

According to the book, The Psychic Side of Sports written by Michael Murphy and Rhea A. White, during the 1970’s, “a number of psychics had come to public attention with claims that they could perform feats of psychokinesis (PK), that is, the power to affect objects by purely mental means…The existence of PK,” according to Murphy and White, “has been scientifically verified in many laboratories to the satisfaction of many reliable witnesses. Theoretically, PK ability can provide that extra edge which might explain some otherwise unexplainable athletic feats. But is there any evidence that PK occurs in sports?

“Most PK laboratory experiments involve influencing the throw of the dice. Subjects ‘will’ specific die faces to turn up, or to fall to the left or right. Willing is often mentioned by athletes. They often make many statements to suggest that at times they can actually ‘will’ things to happen. There are many golf stories about changing the flight of the ball through the power of the mind. Don Lauck notes that for years golf galleries had believed that Jack Nicklaus ‘could win whenever he wanted, could will the ball into the cup if he needed a birdie at the 18th.’

“John Brodie, (who formerly played for the San Francisco 49’ers) once discussed a touchdown pass he threw to 49’ers end, Gene Washington:

Murphy: When the play began it looked for a moment like the safety would make an interception. But then it seemed as if the ball went through or over his hands as he came in front of Washington.

Brodie: Pat Fischer, the cornerback, told the reporters after the game that the ball seemed to jump right over his hands as he went for it. When we studied the game films that week, it did look as if the ball kind of jumped over his hands into Gene’s. Some of them said it was the wind – and maybe it was.

Murphy: What do you mean by maybe?

Brodie: What I mean is that our sense of that pass was so clear and our intention so strong that the ball was bound to get there, come wind, cornerbacks, hell or high water.’”

The power of the mind is amazing. And even now during this 21st century I believe we’ve barely tapped into its potential. Especially in the field of sports.

When Mark McGwire was playing for Tony LaRussa, he later admitted he was taking steroids for “health reasons” as well as PEDs and Human Growth Hormones. When he finally came forward and told the truth, everyone, including LaRussa, was happy for him and appreciated his honesty. And I’m sure LaRussa had absolutely no knowledge of McGwire’s use of drugs. But did McGwire’s performance at the plate help Tony LaRussa win baseball games? Absolutely. In fact, his home run hitting ability won many a game for the St. Louis Cardinals. Now don’t get me wrong. I believe Tony LaRussa will go down as one of the great baseball managers of all time. But it doesn’t seem fair that LaRussa was inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame and McGwire, even to this day, has been shut out. One would think that since LaRussa benefited from McGwire’s performance at the plate that LaRussa would not be allowed into the Hall. But he was. And my point is: Either allow LaRussa AND McGwire into the Hall of Fame or don’t allow either of them in. It doesn’t seem fair.

“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.

The “Billy Goat Curse” is the granddaddy of all Major League Baseball superstitions. For those of you who may not be familiar with the curse, here’s what happened based on information gathered from the Internet:

On Oct, 6th 1945 a Greek tavern owner by the name of William “BILLY GOAT” Sianis (that was his nickname because of the goatee he always had) bought box seats for the 4th game of the World Series in Chicago against Detroit. He bought one ticket for himself and one for his goat Murphy. The Cubs had won 2 out of 3 in Detroit and were favored to win it all in Chicago. In the past Billy Goat had always been allowed to bring his goat to the games, Murphy always had his own ticket. This time, however, as Sianis walked into Wrigley Field the ushers stopped him, telling him that no goats were allowed. When Billy Goat asked for an appeal directly to owner P.K. Wrigley, P.K. told them to allow Billy Goat in but not Murphy. When Billy Goat asked why, P.K. said, “Because the goat smells!” That upset Sianis and standing in front of Wrigley Field, in retaliation, he raised both hands and said, “Cubs, they not gonna win anymore. Never again will World Series be played in Wrigley Field” Casting what has become known as the “BILLY GOAT CURSE” over the Cubs. Subsequently, the Tigers won the next 3 games and the series and the Cubs have never been back. The Cubs’ loss prompted Billy Goat to send a telegram to P.K. Wrigley asking, “Who smells now?” Perhaps when the Cubs move out of Wrigley field, the curse will disappear?

I’ve mentioned the “Billy Goat Curse” because baseball is a sport with a long history of superstition. According to Wikipedia, from the very famous “Curse of the Bambino” (see below) to some players’ refusal to wash their clothes or bodies after a win, superstition is present in all parts of baseball. Many baseball players—batters, pitchers, and fielders alike— perform elaborate, repetitive routines prior to pitches and at bats due to superstition. The desire to keep a number they have been successful with is strong in baseball. In fact anything that happens prior to something good or bad in baseball can give birth to a new superstition. Some players rely on a level of meta-superstition: by believing in superstitions they can focus their mind to perform better.
Some of the more common superstitions include purposely stepping on or avoiding stepping on the foul line when taking the field, and not talking about a no-hitter or perfect game while it is in progress, a superstition that also holds for fans and announcers. Others include routines such as tapping the bat on the plate before an at bat, and drawing in the dirt in the batter’s box before an at bat.

What an athlete believes to be true is true for him or her, regardless of whether or not it’s true in the real word. Wade Boggs believed that eating only chicken before a game helped his performance on the field, and it did. When he was inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame, he thanked his father, who was sitting on the front row, but it seems to be he should also have thanked Kentucky Fried Chicken. ☺

As for the “Curse of the Bambino,” the Red Sox finally ended it by beating the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2004 World Series, 4-0. But they had a little help. What most people don’t know is that immediately after the season ended the Cardinals fired their hitting coach, Mitchell Paige, and sent him on his way, encouraging him to enter an alcohol treatment center, which he did. In most situations, when a player or coach with a “drinking problem” is let go, it’s generally understood they can return once they have their addiction under control. No so with Mitchell Paige. He was flat out fired. Period. Which tells me something pretty bad had taken place behind the scenes during the series. Something that affected team chemistry and subsequently caused them to lose four straight games to the Red Sox. So much for that “curse.” Mitchell, by the way, recently passed away, March 13, 2011.


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