Friday, October 13, 2006

Too deep into "the zone"?

Tim McCarver, FOX Sports' highly touted (if oft-grating) baseball analyst, just observed that sometimes, amid the excitement of post-season play, pitchers have trouble finding the strike zone "because the adrenaline level is so high." But... wait... Isn't that called "being up for the game"? Being "motivated"? Wanting it? I thought that's what helps you win every time out...?

This is the kind of thing that's just too good, I guess, for me to wait till after the weekend to blog.

MORE SURREAL BASEBALL NONSENSE, Saturday afternoon, Oct. 14: Here's former MLB journeyman and current FOX analyst Kevin Kennedy on the "climate" set by manager Jim Leyland, whose Detroit Tigers, perennial doormats, today are one win away from going to the World Series for the first time in decades: "It all starts with the manager. Jimmy Leyland expects to win." I see. So I guess the managers of the other 26 teams who have already been eliminated from post-season play went into the season expecting to lose. In fact, I guess Joe Torre, whose New York Yankees were dispatched by the Tigers last week, didn't expect to win, either (despite going into the post-season with what some analysts were calling the best lineup in baseball history). And I guess the assemblage of 100-mph arms that Detroit has coming out of its bullpen has nothing to do with any of this.

10 comments:

RevRon's Rants said...

In the study of classical martial arts, the student is trained to approach an opponent dispassionately, without malice or fear. Either of these emotions hinders one's ability to perform at his / her highest level of skill, whether on the mat in the dojo, on the baseball field, or in a difficult negotiation. The analogy we were given is that the tiger does not hate; he merely survives. The "adrenaline rush" makes for good press, not effective action.

Anonymous said...

As usual Steve you overstate. Often you have a good point to make but you go too far. All athletes site attitude as a key ingredient in success. I'm not trying to be a smart-ass but, what athletic competition have you ever won, to prove them wrong?
-Carl

RevRon's Rants said...

Carl -
With all DUE respect, you are a living, breathing argument for the notion that some folks can achieve things without trying. :-)

Steve Salerno said...

Carl, though I'm inclined to simply second Ron on this one, your observations deserve a fuller response, which I will give you after the weekend.

Steve Salerno said...

Carl, here's the longer response I promised (or threatened?) the other day.

First of all, your implied contention that someone who hasn't actually DONE it isn't entitled to COMMENT on it would--if allowed to stand throughout society--prevent almost everyone from commenting on everything except their own lives. Indeed, it would prevent YOU from commenting on this blog, inasmuch as you are (presumably) neither a self-help guru or someone who has extensively studied the subject.

Second, even if it were true that a person had to have "done it" in order to comment on it, that still leaves us squarely in the realm of anecdotal evidence. You seem to be saying that if indeed I had been a top-tier athlete--and if I knew I'd succeeded in that endeavor without a positive attitude--then I'd be entitled to advance that personal experience as "proof." In fact, that kind of so-called proof--i.e. taking one's own experience and using it as the basis for these wide-scale judgments about life in general--is the most dangerous kind of reasoning there is. One person's experience, in isolation, means nothing.

Third, as it happens, I've been involved in athletics my entire life. I have even "won things," both personally and as the coach/manager of various teams. Maybe I was never Tiger Woods or Bill Parcells, but I think I've been conversant enough with the sports environment--and have done enough research--to feel justified in venturing an opinion.

In fact, as I recall, I even wrote a well-reviewed book on this stuff.

So those are my credentials for speaking out on these topics. And yours are....?

Anonymous said...

Steve, you are a bit of a hypocrite in what you said a while ago about personal attacks when you and the Ron clearly take such delight in criticizing me personally! I made an honest point and there was no need to crap all over it or go where Ron went especially. I think I am owed an apology don't you?
-Carl

Steve Salerno said...

Carl, I can't speak for the Rev., but I think I gave you a thoughtful and well-considered response. And I honestly feel that you opened the door to this with your provocative comment to me--"what have you ever won?" I have invited you several times now to flesh out your thoughts, rather than simply taking a shot in the dark and leaving it at that. I still welcome whatever you have to say.

RevRon's Rants said...

I'm always amused when someone says "I'm not trying to be a smartass," then launches into intentionally offensive banter. Perhaps they think that such an initial disclaimer will somehow let them off the hook for saying something rude. It's even more amusing when they get into a snit for being called on it.

Anonymous said...

Steve, I see you're not going to address my point so let me just ask you this then- Did it ever occur to you that if you thought differently, like the people you like to attack, maybe you would've had a better shot at being Tiger or Parcells?
-Carl

Steve Salerno said...

Look, Carl, in theory it's a fair question. But every ounce of common sense (I do have some) tells me that it can't be a simple matter of "believe it, achieve it." It just can't be! First of all, that would mean that all losers, by virtue of being losers, are attitudinally defective. I just can't buy that--certainly not in pro sports. There are times when, despite the most intense motivation--and sometimes, as Ron points out, precisely because of it--you fail anyway. I am a pretty big guy. Suppose you put me in the ring with a far smaller guy who--unbeknown to me--happened to be the middleweight champion of the world, a la, say, Roy Jones Jr. in his prime. I'd have an awful lot of confidence and motivation going into that fight, especially since I perpetrated my share of pugilism in college. And you know what? I'd be unconscious and/or a bloody pulp in under two minutes. There are simply times when competence trumps confidence. Period.

Or how about cases where athletes surprise everyone by winning in spectacular fashion one day, then surprise everyone again by losing badly the next day. (You see this a lot in the Olympics.) Are you saying they wanted it on Day 1 but suddenly didn't want it on Day 2? That's a terrible example of a posteriori reasoning--looking at the end result and reasoning backwards to find (more likely create) a convenient cause. But bottom line, because of the myriad variables involved, this whole argument about PMA is utterly unprovable. And the whole point of my book was WHAT CAN WE PROVE? as opposed to merely WHAT DO WE WANT TO BELIEVE?