Wednesday, June 03, 2009

More Of The Same

When are people gonna learn that all these things that "spark" a team are meaningless? The Yanks have had so many different sparks or fires lit under them or whatever you wanna call it for the last eight years, but they never actually win. The Contrived Sparkers, I oughtta call 'em. The latest example is a Daily News article saying how Teixeira made some hard slide, and because of this, he sparked the team, and is suddenly "the type of player the team needs to win a championship." I refused to read the article. I got this stuff from the teasers and that was all I needed. But come on, they're on a hot streak anyway, and last night's win was 12-3. I think people just write these stories because they can't think of anything else. They have a "spark" template and just fill in the names.

The only way you can really say a guy gave a team a spark is at the end of the season. You look at who won the World Series, and you go back and see what event it was that put them on the right path. (And even that's usually a buncha shit anyway.) Any guy on any team can make a hard slide, start a fight, get ejected, or have a pizza party to try to bring the team together (Remember when the Yanks actually did that and then missed the playoffs for the first time in 14 years? Or was it bowling? A roller rink birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese? I really don't remember exactly.) They could do it every single day. But if you don't actually win, it obviously didn't work.

So John Harper, try to refrain from using the word "championship" until the Yanks actually win one. Unless you're referring to them decidedly un-winning championships.

I'm always really skeptical about stuff like this, about when a team gets "sparked" or inspired or whatever. It is hard to figure out how much impact psychology plays in baseball. On the one hand, there is the fact that external factors never change drastically from situation to situation, and that stupid people (i.e. most sports writers) have this tendency to see patterns where there are none.

Yet on the other hand, there is stuff in baseball like home-field advantage and situational hitting, that must have at least a partial basis in psychology. And it is impossible to deny that players attitudes can often be important. But since they must affect everyone differently, you can never really attribute definite causes to events that make teams "turn the corner" or whatever. And like you said, even if you could, it certainly wouldn't be possible to do in early June.
I definitely believe psychological stuff is important, I mean, I'm always saying how I'd rather have fun guys than robots, etc. But you don't automatically win because you started a fight or "got a teammate's back" or whatever, because if you did, people would be doing it constantly. The only thing that makes you actually win is scoring more runs know.
A roller rink birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese? I really don't remember exactly.


Actually, I think the Chuck E. Cheese event (incident?) was true.
It was! It was bowling or pool or something.
Well, I'll have to chime in on the other side of this one. While it's definitely true that all the psychological stuff cannot possibly guarantee a win, it certainly can add a little edge and can occasionally put you over the top. Comraderie won't make the Royals a championship team, but a lack of it can hurt a championship caliber team.
Of course I also realize it makes more of a difference with my teenagers than it does with a professional athlete.
Okay, re-reading my first line makes me realize I've given people the wrong impression. I am totally all about the way players are as humans, and I think I've made that clear over the years. I just mean that doing the things that you've seen to have worked for other teams does not mean it will work for you. And I've been making fun of the Yanks for years for their contrived methods: Oh, you fought us and won it all? Look at us, we're fighting now, see, see??

And I'm specifically talking about the Yanks, who are supposed to win it all. So, sure, maybe they feel sparked right now, but if they don't win it all, what does it matter? And how can a reporter come out and say "look, they've got the type of guy that you need to win a championship," when that guy has never won and the Yanks haven't won anything yet?

I don't want to be confused for one of the people who thinks baseball is played only on paper--I am totally against that! I think I have made that clear over the years here.

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