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September 8, 2011; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter (26) takes the ball from pitcher Kevin Gregg (63) in the tenth inning against the New York Yankees at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Orioles defeated the Yankees 5 - 4 in 10 innings. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE

The Newest Oriole: Team Psychologist

I have written a variety of blogs over a period of years, and every so often, I have found myself in a situation – as I project myself into the shoes of the reader of my blog – of having to say, “I’m not making this up.”

I’m not making this up.

The Orioles have hired a sports psychologist to work with the team. He is especially going to work with the pitchers. Imagine that! The idea, as best I can understand it, is to develop in the players a mental toughness that results in physical and performance toughness. This psychologist apparently has a background in the military with a track record of success in preparing people for endurance in high performance situations.

It probably sounds like I am completely mocking this and discrediting it. OK, maybe about 50% … but honestly, I get it that the game involves a great deal of mental components. I am a coach of distance runners in a high school, and I know that when the mind turns south, the body can also follow. Beyond that, as a pastor, I certainly believe in a meta-physical component as a reality affecting the material world.

However, there is no substitute for the hard work of training. It does not matter how much mental toughness and confidence my distance runners engender, there is ultimately no substitute for the disciplined training of running long miles. And I understand that the Orioles management would not disagree with this sentiment, and apparently at least half of all baseball organizations have some professional of this sort. All I’m saying is that if the Orioles pitchers have a great season that surprises everyone, I’m going to give credit in this order:

1.  They themselves for their diligent work …

2.  Brady Anderson for supplying the guidance to maximize fitness and strength …

3.  Rick Peterson and the new system and varied new staff and coaching personnel and techniques …

4.  Their wives for cooking good meals …

5.  The team psychologist.

I do have to chuckle at the responses of some of them – like from Hunter and Britton. The basic message is, “This can’t hurt us, we all have inevitable ups and downs, we’re looking forward to it, so let’s give it a try.”

I laugh, because what else are any of them going to say? Are we going to hear, “This is the most stupid idea I’ve ever heard of” or “I ain’t gonna go see no shrink!”  The result would be to become patient #1.

So, hey, whatever it takes … call me old-fashioned, but I still don’t believe anything replaces simple hard work and preparation.

Twitter: @osayorioles

Tags: Baltimore Orioles Tommy Hunter Zach Britton

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