Choking In Sports

.. at due to the stress of missing that kick, he was no longer able to be a the kicker he once was. Now god knows that some players can bounce back from something like this, but in the most case stuff like this can be as traumatic as getting in a car accident and then developing a fear for driving. The mind develops a kind of safety guard that helps protect us from that kind of extreme stress again and it can dramatically affect the way the player performs. Lets take the next case for example, except lets use a different game. A closer in baseball is a relieve pitcher the comes in usually in the 8th or 9th innings to keep the opponent from scoring to preserve the lead that eventually leads to a win.

This position doesnt have as much pressure for the player to perform as a kicker would. If a closer blows a save, he will not lose his job, and their are 162 games in a season, so during a season it wont mean that much of a difference if the team loses a game. Although, in the case I will give to you, this was no ordinary game. This was game six of the World Series. It was the bottom of the 9th and The Philadelphia Phillies had a one run lead. Just like Scott Norwood, Mitch Williams was having a great season and a memorable career.

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He was affectionately known as Wild Thing by the Philadelphia fans. The best thing a closer can have is a short memory, he said. It was in 1993 when he was Wild Thing, the untamed relief pitcher on the dirty-shirt Phillies who shocked the Braves and went to Game 6 of the World Series. There were John Kruk, Lenny Dykstra, Darren Daulton and the guys, and Mitch – gypsies, tramps and thugs, he called them. Not a role model in the lot. Philadelphia loved that team.

I loved that team, Williams said. They were the best people. I loved playing with them. When the season ended, we were spent. (Steve Jacobson,1995) And devastated.

Mitch Williams tried to come back with Kansas City. The Royals were trying to find something among five non-roster veteran left-handers here. A psychiatrist might say Williams is trying to find himself, or lose himself.(Steve Jacobson,1995) What does a tightrope walker remember when he falls, the times he went the distance, or the impact? There is no safety net for the closer. Does he say, `Man, I don’t ever want to work without a net again’? said Royals manager Bob Boone, the resident psychiatrist.(Steve Jacobson,1995) He took a two-run lead into the ninth inning of the sixth game as the Phillies improbably were about to even the Series. Williams got an out and the Blue Jays had two runners on, which was how he had escaped late in the season, and Joe Carter pierced the Phillies’ hearts with a home run. Never has the World Series ended with a home run that reversed the score, before or since.(Steve Jacobson,1995) He understands the mentality.

For some people I was the villain, no question, Williams said. I know whatever I do, I’ll be remembered for that. I don’t want my career to end with the last two seasons the way they were. The kind of guy he is, if his career had been ended by a runaway beer truck in ’93, he would have called it great. It was the best year he ever had.

He wasn’t a tidy closer. He pitched at the brink of disaster all the time. Jim Fregosi cringed, didn’t especially like him, but he knew Wild Thing accepted the call. He pitched in 65 games, struck out 60 in 62 innings and had 43 saves.(Steve Jacobson,1995) How quickly that was forgotten. Williams yesterday recalled the soccer player who was the national goat of the ’94 World Cup, went home to Colombia and was shot dead in the street.

Williams got death threats.(Steve Jacobson,1995) Eggs and stones were thrown at his house. I could take it, he said. But my wife and kid were in the house. Threats on his life were phoned to the ball club. Cops were stationed near his home.

They didn’t tell me until I saw cops at the park the next day, he said.(Steve Jacobson,1995) He didn’t sleep after Carter’s home run, either. What some of us recall was that SkyDome was filled with joyous thunder and the Phillies’ clubhouse was the Atlanta railroad station from Gone With the Wind. Players sat in stunned silence while Wild Thing whipped himself before waves of questioners. Some guys have to interview the guy who hit the home run and some the guy who threw it, he said yesterday. I wasn’t going to run from it.(Steve Jacobson,1995) He was traded to Houston that December.

Perhaps it was because his market value was peak, perhaps it was because Philadelphia couldn’t be expected to forgive, perhaps it was because he had lost some of his fastball as the season wore him down. He was what Boone called an adrenaline-pitcher. He threw himself at the batter as hard as he could. I always thought the pressure was my advantage, Williams said. The hitter wants to be the hero – the ego thing.

They swing at pitches they normally wouldn’t.(Steve Jacobson,1995) He went from 43 saves to six with Houston to none with California, to a struggling half-season in the minors that ended last August when the Phillies decided he’d never get himself together to be of value to them again. The home run didn’t change me, he said. What bothered me was everybody saying my fastball was going away. (Steve Jacobson,1995) So he tried to throw harder to prove them wrong. Ralph Branca said Bobby Thomson’s home run didn’t bother him, it was trying to prove it didn’t bother him that ruined his arm. I tried to throw 100 and ruined my mechanics, Williams said.

I was going to prove them wrong. In the process I proved them right. (Steve Jacobson,1995) Now of course my report just tells of two cases, of which a player choked and after that could not recover from it. I am sure there has been players that have given up the game winner and came back to have good careers. I can’t use Mark Wohlers, who gave up the base hit to Edgar Renteria in the 1997 World Series, he also has hit a downfall in his career. I can’t use him in my report because although the problem is psychological.

I personally don’t think it has to do with the game winning hit he gave up because no one placed much emphasis on him. They instead focused on Edgar Renteria’s base hit. Did you know that Greg Maddox gave up the game winning home run to Steve Finley this year to give The San Diego Padres the NL pennant? He is one the best pitchers to ever play the game. So what can come from this report. Well, basically nothing if you asked me. Kicker and closers no that they have to go through the pressure of the game they are in.

Also, you have to understand, these players are the cream of the crop and still make allot of money by our standards. The average closer makes about 2.5 million a year in baseball because it is such an overwhelmingly demanding position. It take allot of skill and craft. Most closer are not young. The youngest successful closer in Kary Lightenburg. Keep in mind though it is his first year.

Older pitchers are closer because that can handle the pressure, but how can an pitcher, not just an old pitcher, take the stress he must endure to keep his job and do it effectively. The same goes for the NFL. The NFL wants gritty vets who get the job done, and can do it with a little leg. Sports Choking isnt a life threatning disease. It is just a condition that happens when pressure situations arise the player, who would normally be able to make it doesnt because of the pressure the can come with that situation.

The experment deals with pressure situations and tells weather there is such a situation.


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