My name’s Melanie, and I’m a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and therapist. I love to analyze the mental part of the game and how it seems to affect the players.
On the docket this week: Rodón’s Revenge, and the Demoralization of Our Offense.
The weekend series against the Yankees was brutal for so many reasons. A lethargic offense, questionable bullpen management, and an inconsistent strike zone led to an unfavorable outcome for the Sox. After the drama that occurred during the Twins series, many were left wondering: Did La Russa’s comments and lack of support for his players influence the morale of the team?
It’s undeniable that the role of a baseball manager is to support the team, provide guidance and motivation, and make game time decisions that will ultimately lead to a team win. In evaluating the past two weeks alone, Tony La Russa has failed on all fronts. He has publicly chastised one of his best offensive players, refused to back him up when he was purposely thrown at, and apologized to the opposing team. This is obviously out of character for any manager, and gave everyone serious Benedict Arnold vibes. It is fair to speculate that this would create a lack of confidence throughout the clubhouse — despite comments from players stating it didn’t affect them.
It has been a theme this season that the team is winning in spite of La Russa, not because of him. His poor late-inning bullpen management and the egregious misuse of his $54 million star closer has easily cost the Sox multiple close, winnable games. His poor managerial skills combined with his lack of moral support could spell disaster for the Sox. The series against the Yankees could have been a fluke (one would hope). However, the events that have transpired recently could cause demoralization within the clubhouse and lead to a lack of motivation. The guys looked lethargic, despondent both defensively and at the plate.
The bright spot of the series? Carlos Rodón — or Karlos, as he has been affectionately called after his brilliant performance on Friday night.
Earlier Friday, posts had been shared on Twitter via the MLB’s account speculating on the NL and AL potential Cy Young candidates. Given Rodón’s exceptional performance and minuscule ERA, he seems like a shoo-in. However, as per usual, the White Sox were overlooked and Rodón was not mentioned. Many on Sox Twitter were offended at the omission, and rightly so.
After the outing Rodón had on Friday night, many wondered if he saw or heard about the snubbing and decided to ball out in spite of the MLB’s post. This would make sense — being left out or considered an underdog has a tendency to fuel a fire for athletes. Being told you’re not good enough makes you want to succeed even more. Rodón has been through hell and back the past couple of years, and given his performance so far this season, he deserves all of the accolades and recognition.
Is this team being fueled by spite? Fighting through adversity can make them even stronger. Poor management, significant injuries, and being snubbed by the baseball world could potentially end up being a recipe for success instead of disaster.
That ends our therapy session this week. Feel free to comment below and discuss your thoughts on how you feel the recent events have affected the guys — and you.