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Friday, February 22, 2013

WINNING: IT'S MORE THAN RAW TALENT

As I watch MLB’s Network 30 Clubs in 30 Days, the banter escalates into how many "W"s will the team in question ultimately achieve.  What I am hearing is that winning is more than bullpen talent and offensive power, it is about getting up the next day and winning, whether you won the night before or you lost.  How do players muster up the courage and determination to face the next game head on less than 24-hours of a battle to the finish? 
According to the New York Times (HERE), “At this level, you’re going to escape death a few times and sometimes, you’re going to get shot,” said Terry Collins in reference to a Mets win over the Giants last April.  When you get shot, you just have to recover and when you give it all the night before, you have come out fighting just as hard the next day.  In the spring it’s easier to rebound because your guys are fresh and ready to take on the world, but come late July and mid-August, the days get longer and even more important.  According to MLB Network analysts this is where you separate winning clubs from dying clubs.  It is about endurance, it is about who can take on the next challenge, it is about who can win day after day- that’s a mentality and that’s embedded in a player’s mindset despite contract controversies, injury reports, and managerial mishaps. 




Robinson Cano said it best this week when he told reporters that he is focused on winning and that he will not give into the distractions of his contract extension.  Derek Jeter is focused on winning too and downplaying his ankle injury, which abruptly ended his postseason.

See reporters like this stuff- these sidebars make the game interesting.  Yet in reality these are merely sidebars and they do nothing but take away from the energy of the game that needs to be played every night hard and fierce in order to be at the top of pack come September and October. 

Endurance- most would say that this refers strength and power at the end of a long work out or game.  Sure, I agree with that but I also agree that mental endurance is even tougher to build and maintain.  According to Forbes Magazine’s article (HERE), “Six Elements of Mental Toughness,” “Research and common sense tell us that top competitive athletes succeed because of their physical talents and their dedication to training. However, they also succeed because of their dexterity in dealing with the psychological pressures of a sport. In short, mental toughness and resilience are tremendously important for any athlete aiming to be the best in a sport.” The article continues to say that athletes need to practice mental toughness and ready themselves for the challenges that lie ahead of them.  “Are you mentally tough enough to compete?” is the root question underlying the training process.  The article’s six elements include:  Flexibility, Responsiveness, Strength, Courage and Ethics, Resiliency, and Sportsmanship. 

I don’t know about you folks, but when I read through those powerful words that describe the best leaders of the game, I think about these six infielders: Sabathia, Rivera, Teixeira, Cano, Jeter, and yes, even Youkilis who faced mental toughness head on last season with the horrors of the Red Sox club house and Bobby Valentine at the helm.

We absolutely have what it takes mentally, I just know it and if baseball is 90% mental as Yogi Berra reminds us, then we can take it, despite our limitations and despite the criticism surrounding the 2013 team.  We can take it because we are mentally tough and isn’t that what winning is truly all about?



--Suzie Pinstripe, BYB Opinion Columnist
Twitter: @suzieprof




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