The Pirates hire a new "Mental Conditioning Coordinator"

Leave a comment

We must begin by asking it:  “What is losing?” Losing is a disease. As contagious as polio. Losing is a disease.  As contagious as syphilis. Losing is a disease as contagious as bubonic plague; attacking one, but infecting all. But curable. Now, I want you to imagine you are on a ship at sea on a vast, gently rocking . . . gently rocking . . .

Bernie Holliday, who has a Ph.D. in sports
psychology and spent the last six years working at the United States
Military Academy, was hired as mental conditioning coordinator. He
replaces Geoff Miller, whose contract was not renewed.

Much, much more on Holliday and his particular assignment in this Post-Gazette article:

[Holliday] could bring to the Pirates such Army teaching techniques as
workshops, simulations, on-field exercises, videos and MP3 audios
personalized to each player, attention-control technology and
biofeedback analysis. The techniques cover a variety of mental skill
sets: from adaptation to analysis, from energy management to
establishment of a purpose, from preparation to perseverance, from
self-awareness to self-regulation.

The above “Natural” quote notwithstanding, I’m not trying to be snarky here.  I’ll grant that there’s more to this kind of job than telling people to be the ball or breathe through their eyelids or whatever. But really, do all teams have a “mental conditioning coordinator?” The article says the Red Sox and Indians do, and Pittsburgh apparently had one for the past few years.

I’d really like to know what people in the game actually think of this kind of stuff.  I guess I’m more curious about this than anything, but my gut says that ballplayers would be a bit less receptive to biofeedback analysis and energy management than your average bear.

The top 100 Jock Jams

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Why yes, it is a slow news day. So here’s a fun list from Billboad: The 100 Greatest Jock Jams of all time.

You know ’em when you hear ’em. “Seven Nation Army.” “Rock and Roll Part 2.” “Sirius” by the Alan Parsons Project. Songs that existed before they were used at sporting events but songs you rarely ever hear outside of them anymore and, frankly, kinda don’t want to because they’ve been forever turned into sporting event anthems.

It’s hard to disagree with this list. Queen’s “We Will Rock You” is at number one. I’ll grant that, even if you hear that way less now than you used to, mostly because it was SO overused as, perhaps, the original jock jam from the 1980s-forward. All of the rest make sense.

Baseball lends itself far less to jock jams than the other sports as the intensity level of the game is so much lower for the most part. Also, since the rankings tried to intentionally stay away from songs that relate to only one sport there is no “Centerfield” or “Glory Days” or songs like that. Baseball is represented, though, with “Sweet Caroline” at number 20. Likewise, you might hear any number of these songs when the bases are loaded and the visiting manager comes out to make a pitching change. A lot of players use these songs as walkup music too.

A good time killer on a slow day.

(h/t to my wife, who sent me the link and said “Did you see this? Could be a good garbage post”). Um, thanks?

Yoenis Cespedes plans to run more, lift less this offseason

Getty Images
2 Comments

Yoenis Cespedes plans to be in The Best Shape of His Life next season.

He didn’t really say that, but this article in the New York Post features Cespedes doing more or less what those Best Shape of His Life stories are aimed at doing: changing perceptions and/or trying to take the heat off of a poor or injury-impacted season.

In Cespedes’ case it was two hamstring injuries this year which limited him to 81 games. He hit the disabled list with a leg injury last year too. So what’s he gonna do? Less emphasis on bulk, more on running:

“I think in the past I have gone into the season where I have spent a lot of time in the gym doing a lot of lifting, so I come in feeling very strong,” Cespedes said through an interpreter before the Mets’ 5-4, 10-inning loss to the Marlins. “But I definitely wasn’t dedicating the time I need to be running, to really give resistance to my muscles.

Of course the bulk was, at the time, supposed to be to what was responsible for his resurgence after he fell off while playing with the A’s and Red Sox. Get strong, hit bombs. He did that, it worked and then the injuries came and now, apparently, that’s not supposed to be a good thing for him.

I get that bodies change and that exercise science is often an inexact science. And, where it is more exact, it’s outside of the total understanding of outsiders like us. But it often seems that guys in baseball do a thing, then do the opposite thing, then go back to doing a thing based on gut feeling. And that injuries are going to come to certain players no matter what they do.