Saturday, October 01, 2005

Pressure

Queen and David Bowie sang about it. Billy Joel did, too.
"Pressure, pushing down on me, pressing down on you."
"You cannot handle pressure."
As I write this, the Indians are leading 1-0 in the sixth inning of a game they must win. Casey Blake drove in Ronnie Belliard, who beat out an infield single, then tagged up and advanced to second on Ben Broussard's long fly out.
One run. A run is like gold right now.
The Indians have been cracking under pressure since the Tampa Bay series. If they don't score early, the fretting begins, and tension leads to flailing swings and ruined at-bats.
Friday night, Grady Sizemore reached third base with nobody out in the first inning. If he could have scored, there is a good possibility the tone of the game would have been quite different.
Instead, the pressure was relentless. No runs until the seventh, when Chicago plated a tally. The Indians scored in the ninth, but missed chances to win in the ninth, 11th and 12th. At one point, they had the bases loaded and one out. At another, a runner at second with one out. No dice.
Pressure is the enemy of performance. Pressure led Jose Mesa and Mariano Rivera to cough up leads in Game 7 of the World Series. Pressure burned Ralph Branca in 1951, blurred Don Dekinger's vision in 1985 and made an eternal goat of Bill Buckner.
And there's no way around it. You either find your way of handling the pressure, or you fail. That's what makes it pressure.
The Indians are facing a White Sox team playing out the string at jog speed, more concerned with resting players than beating the Indians. Chicago's starter today, Jon Garland, is reportedly on an 85-pitch limit. Friday, Mark Buehrle was pulled after mystifying the Indians for 5 2/3 innings.
If the Indians fail to make the playoffs, it will have little to do with Ozzie Guillen's bag of tricks, and a lot to do with the Indians between the ears.
Right now, pressure is in control.

2 comments:

Abrasivist said...

I live in Cleveland. Grew up in Chicago. I was a Cub fan. I never hated the White Sox. Just, as a kid, kind of wondered how someone could not be a Cub fan. So being in Cleveland I was rooting for the Indians to back into the playoffs. Sure I am disappointed. Have to tell you about something I saw at work this morning. I saw a man with a t-shirt that said "white sox suck" in a creative way. Perhaps it was the Chicago in me in that angered me. I just thought how misguided this young man was. After all, the "white sux" had just beaten the Indians with their second stringers on Cleveland's home field for the last couple of days. Guess this guy missed the memo. The "white sux" kicked their ass again today with scrubs from their bench too. That completed a Cleveland choke job where they lost five of their last six games to give away what was thought to be an easy playoff spot a week ago. Now THAT "sux". No way...I'm not hopping on the bandwagon of American League Chicago baseball. I'm just saying that they don't suck. So, Cleveland, after you put all those corks back in those champaign bottles save one to put in your mouth. You got close to arrogant when you beat the "white sux" in Chicago two of three not too long back. Perhaps just arrogant enough to motivate benchwarmers to embarrass your team in front of your own stunned fans. Next year take a lesson from the "white sux" and remember that the season is 162 games long and not 156.

curtsy said...

I think if you did your homework you would find that Bobby Thompson likely hit the "shot heard 'round the world" on a stolen sign. Yeah, he still had to hit it, but knowing what's comin' takes away the pitcher's edge. And if I remember correctly, it was Tony Fernandez who allowed the ball hit by Renteria to slip by for the game winner in Game 7 in '97. Tony made no excuses.