Baseball Psychology

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In this morning’s recaps I made light of Steve Simmons criticizing Roy Halladay’s mental toughness, making an offhand remark about “pop psychology.”  That, combined with my “swagger” post from last week may create the impression that I don’t think the psychological part of the game is important.  Not true. I think it’s really important. I just think that writers tend to attribute far too much of what happens on a baseball diamond to psychological stuff when physical success or failure, support of one’s teammates, or chance has so much more to do with it. It’s more fun to write about things like mental toughness, however, because there are only so many ways to say that the Jays aren’t scoring runs for Roy Halladay.

But as this article profiling players’ use of sports psychologists shows, the psychological part of the game is very real and very important.  And even if you’re not into this kind of thing, it contains a Bob Tewksbury sighting, and who doesn’t like Bob Tewksbury?

Umpire admits he blew the call that got Joe Maddon ejected last night

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Last night in the top of the eighth inning of the Dodgers-Cubs game, Curtis Granderson struck out. Or, at the very least, he should’ve. After the game, the umpire who said he didn’t admitted he screwed up.

While trying to squelch a Dodgers comeback, Wade Davis got Granderson into a 2-2 count. Davis threw his pitch, Granderson whiffed on it, it hit the dirt, and Willson Contreras applied the tag for the out. End of the inning, right? Wrong: Granderson argued to home plate umpire Jim Wolf that he made slight contact with the ball, Wolf, after conferring with the other umps agreed, and Granderson lived to see another pitch.

Before he’d see that pitch, Joe Maddon came out to argue the call and got so agitated about it all he was ejected for the second time in this series. He was right to argue:

It all ended up not mattering, of course, because Granderson struck out eventually anyway.

Normally such things end there, but after the game a reporter got to Wolf and Wolf did something umpires don’t often do: he admitted he blew the call:

It’s good that the bad call ended up not affecting anything. But the part of me who likes to stir up crap and watch chaos rule in baseball really kinda wishes that Granderson had hit a series-clinching homer right after that. At least as long as it didn’t result in Cubs fans burning Chicago to the ground.