Mind Over Sports

Posts Tagged ‘World Series

There’s no way to know for sure, but it seems odd to me that someone with Yoenis Cespedes’ talent should perform so poorly in the World Series. He got caught off first base on a double play ball to end Game 4. He batted poorly, and accidentally kicked the ball twice in the outfield. Not to mention hitting himself in his kneecap with his final at bat. One has to wonder if he is having problems with his girlfriend (who is also the mother of his young son) both of whom, as far as I know, still live in Cuba. But if my Psycho Self-Imagery theory is correct, that we create what happens to us, both good and bad, based on our own feelings of self-worth, then perhaps what happened to Cespedes was no accident. But I guess we’ll never know.

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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.

We all remember that famous story about Coach Knute Rockne and the speech he made to his Notre Dame football players at half-time which many refer to today as “Remember the Gipper,” Well I think history may have repeated itself last night during the San Francisco Giants – Kansas City Royals game. According to the Associated Press report: “Pitching with the initials of late St. Louis outfielder Oscar Taveras on his cap, 23-year old rookie Yordano Ventura allowed three hits over seven innings for his first Series win.” The Royals’ Ventura and Taveras were good friends.  They grew up together in the Dominican Republic and Ventura had dedicated the game to his memory. I call this “Excelling for a Higher Order.” It’s when athletes acknowledge emotional issues in their lives they want to excel for. By doing so, they enhance their own feelings of self-worth and thereby enhance their performance.

If you’re a baseball manager or coach, you have at your disposal one of the most powerful performance enhancement mechanisms that any manager or coach could wish for. That is, the expectation of high performance from your athletes. An expectation (assuming the athlete has the skill level to elevate his or her performance to a higher level) will almost always become a self-fulfilling prophecy. However, the opposite is also true. You as a manager or coach can also create a negative expectation. Such as that created by San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy before World Series Game Six that he was “keeping (starting pitcher) Jake Peavy on a short leash.” And sure enough, his expectation fulfilled itself when Peavy was pulled from the game before the end of the second inning.

If a baseball pitcher is having a difficult time on the mound and looks over at the bullpen and sees another pitcher warming up, is that a sign that the manager is expecting him to fail. And if so, would it not be better if a partition were set up between the pitching mound and the bullpen so the pitcher can’t tell if his manager has confidence in him or not. A manager’s expectation often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

According to the late, great Casey Stengel, most baseball games are lost, not won. But there’s another side to that coin and it’s called “The psi Factor” which, simply put, says: Athletes who are happy and whose lives are in harmony will perform close to their skill levels on a consistent basis (and will win games for their managers.)

The following was taken from the Internet:

“Each time (David) Ortiz crosses the plate after hitting a home run, he looks up and points both index fingers to the sky in tribute to his mother Angela Rosa Arias, who died in a car crash in January 2002 at the age of 46. Ortiz also has a tattoo of his mother on his biceps.

“Ortiz and his wife Tiffany have three children. Since marrying Tiffany, he has become a fan of the Green Bay Packers (his wife hails from Kaukauna, Wisconsin, a town in between the cities of Green Bay and Appleton.) On June 11, 2008, Ortiz became a United States citizen at John F. Kennedy Library in Boston.

“The David Ortiz Children’s Fund was founded in 2007 to support a range of causes that Ortiz believes in. The Fund allows Ortiz the flexibility to donate to those children who are in the most need at any given time, from Boston to the Dominican Republic and beyond. Ortiz released his own Charity Wine label in 2008 with all the proceeds going to the David Ortiz Children’s Fund. The wine called Vintage Papi proceeded to raise $150,000 for charity.”

Of course, it’s important that if the psi factor is to work the athlete must possess the skill level to perform at a high level. Which fits “Big Papi” perfectly. At the time of this writing, Ortiz will take a .733 World Series batting average into game six at Fenway Park. Which makes you believe that, during the next baseball season, if he puts his mind to it, Ortiz could be the first major league player since Ted Williams to bat .400.

According to Boston ace Jon Lester, he had this to say about Ortiz: “The guy’s got a heart of gold.”


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