Baseball Magazine

The Game Shows No Mercy

By Meachrm @BaseballBTYard
At the time of this post, the Seattle Mariners are mired in a 17 game losing streak.  Play the game long enough and your team will go through some kind of losing spell.  Hopefully not 17 games though.  It's not fun to been caught in a rut like that and it can turn ugly very quickly.  However, a team and the coaching staff need to stay somewhat positive and be careful not to go into all-out panic mode.  Doing so does not show a calm and supportive attitude that players tend to seek during such times.  
Mariner manager Eric Wedge made a comment to the press the other day that is very instructive.  
"We've got to get tougher," an exasperated Wedge said. "This game will eat you up if you don't get tougher. They fought back today, but we've got to do a better job from inning to inning."
It's the same message I pass on to my players at some point each and every season.  If you were a fly on the wall, here is what you might hear from me while addressing a team if a pattern of poor performance was starting to emerge.
The game shows no mercy
Speech #18:  Baseball Shows No Mercy
Ok guys, listen up.  We've hit a little bump in the road here and we need to make some adjustments.  First of all, we understand that the game is very difficult.  Failure is part of the game and you don't want to focus too much attention on that.  You want to stay positive and keep moving forward.  We also understand that nobody is trying to screw up.  You all want to play well.  That being said, there is something you need to understand about the game. It will show you no mercy.  The game of baseball will knock you down and rub your face in the dirt as soon as it thinks you are disrespecting it.  This usually happens when a player thinks he has the game figured out.  A hitter goes on a hot streak, thinks he's larger than the game, and starts to go through the motions.  A successful pitcher may think that previous success will automatically transfer to the future as long as he just shows up.  A team can also take their wins for granted and think that all they need to do is throw their hats on the field and the other team will just roll over.  That's not how the game works.  When the game of baseball see this, it tends to arrive on the scene and very quickly show that the player/team is not larger than the game.  An 0-5 with 4 strikeouts can be the result for a hitter.  Not making it out of the first inning can be the result for a pitcher.  A losing streak can set in for a team.  The point is, the game can humble you in a hurry.  A player needs to respect that and know their place in the game.  Their job is to play the game the right way each and every pitch in each and every game.  The moment a player or team loses that focus or thinks the game is easy, the game will show up and quickly remind everyone who is in control.  There are a lot of jobs where a person can hide and go through the motions.  Not baseball.  As Crash Davis said in Bull Durham, a player needs to have a good balance of "Fear and Arrogance."  Too much of either one or both and the game will knock you on your rear end.  Respect the game and respect the way it's supposed to be played.  Play hard, be tough, compete, and never forget that no matter how good you are or how good you are playing, you never truly have the game figured out.  It requires constant attention to detail.  Most teams cannot do that consistently.  Most teams don't win championships either.  So start respecting the game more.  Stop looking at the stats and the scoreboard and start focusing on playing the game right from the first pitch to the last.  Do that, and we'll start turning this thing around.  Do that off the field and you'll succeed in anything you decide to do.

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