A little help please


#1

I’m lookin’ for some help. Recently someone made a post having to do with stress on the pitchers and if I remember how they’d checked with a sports stress psychologist. I meant to PM whoever it was, but I’m afraid I took too long, and now I can’t remember who it was or what thread it was in. I’ve spent some time this afternoon searching, but to no avail, and really would like to follow up.

If anyone remembers writing it or seeing anything about such a thing, please let me know via e-mail or a PM. It would be greatly appreciated.

Thanx

SK


#2

Hi, scorekeeper.
I checked back and I couldn’t seem to find anything on the subject (stress on pitchers)—it must have been quite some time ago. If you could give me some idea as to what prompted you to ask that question, maybe I can give you some advice or tell you where to look. I’ll be waiting. 8)


#3

Whoever it was commented something to the effect that he’d recently been in contact with some kind of authority about how stress affected players. I can’t remember exactly, but I’m thinking it was some kind of specialized stress psychologist. I could have sworn it was on a thread I’d posted on, and I’ve only been around for a few weeks.

I’m really angry that I didn’t respond right away because it looks like it will fit right into a project of mine, but you know how it is when you try to do 10 things all at once. I really appreciate the help!


#4

Scorekeeper,

Was this where you saw it?

I apologize if cross-posting this link is against policy. The moderators can remove this if necessary.


#5

It’s totally fine :slight_smile: Glad we’re getting such a great discussion !


#6

Reminds me of something I used to see in high school a lot—a student would be sitting in a corner trying to do homework in four subjects at once, and someone else would come up and say “Are you busy?” In any case, let me tell you about some things I have seen over the years concerning various degrees of stress and how it can affect players and/or teams. The best way I can do this is to refer to a paper I wrote a few years ago for a SABR publication, the Baseball Research Journal. The article was called “Aspects of Nemesis”, and it dealt with different degrees of the problem, particularly as it applies to pitchers.
Perhaps the most striking example of this is the degree of stress that afflicted an entire team—in fact, an entire city—because of one pitcher.
In 1948 the Cleveland Indians had won the World Series. The next year they finished an ignominious third. The end came on a night they were to play against Detroit; before the game they conducted a bizarre ceremony—a funeral rite in which they took down their 1948 pennant and World Series championship flag, along with the image of Chief Wahoo which had been perching atop Municipal Stadium. They proceeded to a spot in deep center field, and they buried these artifacts along with their pennant hopes. Then they lost 5-0 to the Tigers.
A few days later—coincidentally the opening of the 1949 World Series—a long article by Cleveland News sportswriter Ed McAuley appeared in the Sporting News. It was a post-mortem, if you will, in which McAuley attempted to pin down what had happened to the team just one year after their glorious World Series victory; he began with one inescapable conclusion: the Indians had given up. They had lost the will and the desire to win. He speculated on possible causes—the plethora of injuries that had plagued the team all season; the frequent and vehement clashes between shortstop-manager Lou Boudreau and owner Bill Veeck; the dissension within the team complicated by allegations and rumors that a number of the players had taken to excessive drinking—but McAuley overlooked one major factor, probably because it had never occurred to him.
Nemesis. And this particular nemesis took the form of a 5’10",185-pound, strawberry-blond lefthander named Ed Lopat who from the moment he had set foot in the American League had zeroed in on the Indians and was beating them to an unrecognizable pulp with such monotonous regularity that in no time at all he became the one pitcher they feared more than any other in the league. Four years with the White Sox, seven-and-a-half with the Yankees, and the end result was a 40-13 lifetime record against the Tribe. Imagine what it’s like—you get up in the morning, you look at the sports pages, and the first thing you see is the pitcher who’s been beating you all the time and you have to face him again? It got to the point where not only the team but its fans, indeed the whole city, was caught in the web from which the only escape would come was when in 1955, at the end of the line, he went to Baltimore and subsequently retired.
There are other forms of stress—the hitting slump, for instance. I’m not talking about Yogi Berra and his famous utterance in resplnse to a question, “I ain’t in no slump; I’m just not hittin’.” I’m talking about a batter who suddenly stops hitting. One day he goes 0-for-3—nothing unusual, because at one point or another every batter goes through that. But then he goes 0-for-4. Next thing you know, he’s 0-for-30o, and it seems it will never end. And the frustration gets the better of him—he smashes the water cooler, or he throws his helmet on the ground in the dugout and jumps up and down on it, smashing it to smithereens. He repeatedly argues with the umpire over balls and strikes and just as repeatedly gets thrown out of the game. Is there no end to it all?
Then suddenly he just quits trying. He just lets the ball hit the bat—and he gets a bunt single, and before you know it he’s hitting again. It’s like a thunderstorm that one thinks will never end—after what seems like an eternity, it clears up, and the skies are blue again.
There’s a famous story about an old St. Louis Browns outfielder named Paul Lehner. He was a good player, a good hitter—then out of the blue he became convinced that he could not hit the ball out of the infield on Sundays. It had nothing to do with religious scruples; he just couldn’t hit the ball out of the infield on Sundays, and this was bad because many crucial games are played on Sundays. One day the team’s trainer went up to him and got him to talk about that “Sunday jinx”—and then the trainer told him about a famous doctor who had discovered some miracle pills that were supposed to help hitters. He had ordered a batch of them, and he told Lehner that when they came the two of them should quietly give them a tryout.
The pills came. It was a Sunday, and the Browns were to play a double-header. Lehner went behind the dugout and swallowed two of the pills. In the first game he went 0-for-3, and he was beginning to doubt the efficacy of the pills; then, in his fourth at-bat, he blasted a home run into the right-field stands. In the second game, he went 4-for-4, including another homer—and that was the end of the Sunday jinx. (This is a fine example of the “placebo effect”, just one way of dealing with the problem.)
As to how stress can affect pitchers—well, you’ve heard stories. All kinds of stories, terrifying, nightmarish tales, all centering on one idea: MY STUFF ISN’T WORKING! You hear this from all levels of pitching, from Little League to the majors—the fast ball lost its hippity-hop; the curve hangs; the slider is flat; the knuckleball refuses to knuckle; the strike zone jumps arouns like a jackrabbit on steroids or disappears altogether; the pitcher’s release point has gone into hiding and won’t come out. And it has nothing to do with mechanics or the arm or the shoulder (what Ed Lopat once called “heck, whatever one throws the ball with”)—it’s all between the ears. It gets to the point where the whole team might be affected. Something has to be done, and if the pitching coach can’t help—well, the pitcher, either on his own initiative or at the suggestion of the manager, will seek out a sports psychologist for advice and assistance. And with regard to this, I think of Jay Hook.
Hook was a pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds in the 1960. His middle name might well have been “Mr. Inconsistent”; he reminded one of the little girl with the curl in the old nursery rhyme. When he was good, he was very, very good, but when he was bad—he stank on hot ice. And on this one occasion, he was pitching against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and he stank on hot ice. The Pirates were eating him alive, turning every pitch he threw into line-drive extra-base hits. Finally manager Fred Hutchinson had to take him out of the game, and when Hook returned to the dugout he sat down in a corner and bemoaned, over and over and over again, the loss of the one pitch he depended on—his fast ball. And if there is one thing that can induce severe stress in a pitcher it’s just this.
In vain did relief pitcher Jim Brosnan try to talk to Hook. He tried to explain to him that no pitcher has all his good stuff every time out. He said, “That’s when you learn this game. You have other pitches to throw; use them when your fast ball isn’t there.” But he might as well have been talking to the wall; Hook appeared not to hear him. He just sat and moaned, over and over and over, “Without my fast ball I can’t pitch.” And this had not been the first time. Note: he didn’t last long in the majors after that.
So there are a few examples of just how undue stress can affect a player or a whole team. And there are many ways to deal with such stress. Whether it be a sports psychologist or a teammate with a good brain, there’s someone who can help. 8)


#7

JP,

You are definitely the Mr. Monk of LPT!

I apologize for being such a twit, but it happens when ya git up there in mileage. :wink:

I knew I’d seen it, but a lot of these things run together I’m afraid. :frowning:

Than you very much!

SK


#8

I pre-apologize to those who have heard this before.

The main reason pitching related stress is of interest to me, has to do with better understanding pitching injuries. It started some years back when Pitcher Abuse Points were dreamed up over at Baseball Prospectus. http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=1477 There were a lot of folks, mostly MLB owners, who were getting sick and tire of signing some HS or college phenom to a nice fat contract, only to lose them entirely, or for at least a couple years to some kind of arm injury. Well, you can judge the article for yourself, but it at least quantified something for the 1st time, and may well have been the cause of what everyone now calls the Pitch Count Era.

For a few years, PAP was metric of choice for such things, but like all metrics, people found ways to improve on it as more knowledge became available. So, out came PAP Cubed. http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=1480

PAP ^3 is really nothing more than a refinement of the algorithm, by subtracting 100 from the number of pitches, then cubing the result. It just acknowledged the fact that once a pitcher got fatigues, the more “dangerous” it was for him to continue.

Since that was done in 2002, there has been a lot more study about pitchers, and one thing that’s definitely come into play, is the amount of rest between appearances. Unfortunately, so far that hasn’t been quantified into PAP, at least that I know of. But even more than that, here lately “stress” has been acknowledged as a factor contributing to fatigue as well, and that hasn’t been factored into the PAP equation either.

I’ve been staying pretty much on the simple route here. To me there are all kinds of levels of stress, but trying to get too nit picky something is just wasted effort. But, something simple like, let’s give one factor to pitches thrown with no runners on, least stressful, to a higher factor for pitches thrown with runners on, more stressful.

Although it would never be possible to predict exactly if or when a pitcher was going to suffer an injury, at least with the best information, it would be possible to make the red light and sirens go off.

And that’s where the metric on page 30 of http://www.infosports.com/scorekeeper/images/cpitching.pdf is headed, or at least that’s where I hope its headed. It allows me to determine the number of pitches PAP is based on, and as soon as I can get some kind of factor for “stress”, I’ll be ble to factor in the different pitches WRO or WNRO.

BTW, its my understanding that pitcher who get drafted out of HS are much less likely to suffer a pitching injury within 2 years of signing a contract than college pitchers. The reason I was given is, the high quality HS player who gets drafted is pretty much treated with kid gloves for those 2 years, while the same kid in college would very likely be worked like a plow horse, with less quality of instruction or medical attention.

Anyhoo, that’s why I wuz innerested. :wink: