Monday, 11 July 2011

Baseball Players

Over the generations, baseball people have developed an infinity of tics and habits to distract and sedate the conscious mind. Managers encourage a preternaturally calm way of being — especially after failure. In the game I happened to see here on Tuesday, Detroit Tigers pitcher Nate Robertson threw poorly, but strutted off the mound as if he’d just slain Achilles. Second baseman Kevin Hooper waved pathetically at a third struck fastball, but walked back to the dugout wearing an expression of utter nonchalance.

This sort of body language helps players remain steady amid humiliation, so they’ll do better next time.

Believe me, the people involved in the sport have no theory of the human mind, but under the pressure of competition, they’ve come up with a set of practices that embody a few key truths.

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Baseball is a personal game. It’s one of the few sports where every player, from the superstar to the utility infielder, is easily recognizable by the average fan. Sure, you could pick Matt Leinart out in a crowd, but could you pick out one Arizona Cardinals offensive lineman in line at McDonalds?

It’s for this reason that not only does a fan grow to hate a rival team, but also the individual players in the opposing uniform. It wasn’t just the Cubs that beat your team today, but the monster home-run from Alfonso Soriano that lead to the tail-kicking. You not only hate the Cubs, you wish terrible things on Soriano and his family (yes, we are a sick breed). However, you still respect Soriano as a player.

Then there are the guys who, unless they are on your home team, you just can’t stomach. They aren’t necessarily bad guys, but there’s just something about them that rubs you the wrong way. Maybe it’s wasted talent, wasted opportunities or the fact they are just too damn good, too damn nice or just flat out lucky to be in baseball.

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