The Head Game

A lot of my friends say that baseball is just plain boring. I guess I can see what they mean, but I can’t agree. They want constant action, big collisions, and athletes playing to the crowd like lead singers in a rock band. That’s just not baseball. Baseball is a head game. Half of what happens on the field is a direct result of the players being mentally ready for it before the pitch is thrown. What’s the situation? What if it’s a ground ball? A deep fly? How fast is that guy on second? How good is that left fielder’s arm? Every pitch of every game, the variables change and each and every player on that field needs to think about the situation at hand and be ready to react.

I love watching that.

My friends used to be a little ho-hum on Cal Ripken Jr. because he wasn’t making as many acrobatic play out there at short. Everything he did looked routine. Easy. The reason that it looked that way was largely due to his prowess with the mental part of the game. Ripken was in the right position to field the ball before the pitch was thrown.

Baseball is a game that gives hope to guys with moderate skills, but a good head for the game. (see: Eckstein, David) It has little patience for those who have the tools but don’t learn the rest. Of course I bring this up today because the Twins lost patience with Alexi Casilla…again. Does he have the skills to be a Major League ballplayer? Definitely! He has a great arm and speed to spare, but too often he’s not where he should be or simply doesn’t understand the variables of the play at hand.

I don’t think Casilla will be gone too long. He has too much to offer with those skills. It could be that he’ll need a change of venue or a different coach to ever really make that leap, but I think he’ll get there. In the mean time, I’m anxious to see what Tolbert can bring to the table. I’ve liked what I’ve seen from him in the past.


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