The Pirates hire a new "Mental Conditioning Coordinator"

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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.

Dan Straily suspended five games, Don Mattingly one for throwing at Buster Posey

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Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports that Marlins pitcher Dan Straily has been suspended five games and Don Mattingly one game for throwing intentionally at Giants catcher Buster Posey on Tuesday in San Francisco. Straily plans to appeal his suspension, so he will be allowed to take his normal turn through the rotation until that matter is settled.

Everything started on Monday, when the Marlins rallied in the ninth inning against closer Hunter Strickland. That included a game-tying single from Lewis Brinson, who pumped his fist and yelled in celebration. Strickland took exception, jawing at Brinson who was on third base when the right-hander was taken out of the game. Strickland went into the clubhouse and punched a door, breaking his hand.

The next day, Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez hit Brinson with a fastball, which prompted warnings for both teams. Mattingly came out to argue with the umpires about the fairness of issuing warnings right then and there. On his way back to the dugout, Mattingly apparently said, “You’re next” to Posey, who was standing around home plate. The next inning, Straily hit Posey on the arm with a fastball, which led to immediate ejections for both him and Mattingly.

Neither Rodriguez nor Giants manager Bruce Bochy were reprimanded, which is ludicrous because it was plainly obvious Rodriguez was throwing at Brinson. But neither team had been issued warnings. Essentially, Major League Baseball is giving free reign for teams to get their revenge pitches in. Furthermore, Straily’s five-game suspension is hardly a deterrent for throwing at a hitter. The Marlins could simply give Straily an extra day of rest and it’s like he was never suspended at all.

Beanball wars are bad for baseball. It puts players at risk for obvious reasons. When players have to miss time due to avoidable injury, self-inflicted (in the case of Strickland) or not (if, for example, Posey had a hand or wrist broken from Straily’s pitch), the game suffers because it becomes an inferior product. That’s, of course, second behind the simple fact that throwing at a player is a tremendously childish way to handle a disagreement. When aimed intentionally at another human being, a baseball is a weapon. That’s especially true when it’s in the hands of someone who has been trained to throw anywhere from 90 to 100 MPH.

Commisioner Rob Manfred has spent a lot of time trying to make the game of baseball more appealing, such adding pitch clocks and limiting mound visits. He should spend some time addressing the throwing-at-batters problem.