Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Baseball subconscious: hero antiworship

It's been three games and Red Sox phenom Daisuke Matsuzaka's record is one win and two losses.

He struck out 10 batters each in two of those games. He allowed two runs in the loss to Toronto, and yet the Red Sox lost. He allowed three runs against Seattle and the Red Sox also lost.

There's been a lot of talk about the ball movement and the size of the ball and differences between the ball here and Japan.

I have a different take on the Matsuzaka phenomenon.

I don't think he's pitching badly. I think the rest of the team is not hitting well when he's pitching. Why? I think it's subconscious.

I call it hero antiworship.

I remember a thousand years ago when I was playing high school football in New Britain, Conn., (don't look for my name on any trophies), we had a guy who weighed nearly 300 pounds and who could bull his way through defensive lines. This was a time when a defensive tackle weighed maybe 215. This guy was built like a tank and could run like the wind for a short while.

Well, in practice, this guy ate up the defense. But in games, he did nothing. But when a lot lighter and less talented fullbacks took the ball, they did better. Why? Because the offensive line wasn't opening up any holes.

It wasn't that they wanted this guy, and the team, to fail. It was a "why bother" or "if this guy's so good, maybe I could let down a bit."

I wonder if this is in play with the Red Sox. Not on the surface, but subconsciously. When Schilling or Beckett are pitching, and even when Wakefield has the ball, the Sox seem to be putting up bigger numbers than for Matsuzaka.

Hmmm. I just wonder. Maybe this is something to be looked at. What do you say, Tito?

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