Matthew Kory, writing for SportsonEarth.com, makes a good point today: It’s hard to make sense of how pressure affects athletes. Specifically, in his piece, how the pressure of the Dodgers’ circumstances (expectations, payroll, proclamations from ownership) are affecting an underperforming team.
Most athletes get questions about pressure from us media types. Most say “there is pressure in every situation,” or some variation thereof, but we don’t know exactly how each player perceives the pressure in a situation. It’s foolish to assume that all athletes have the same perception of the pressure facing them or their team.
All we really know is that these guys are better than most of us at handling pressure. Even Brandon League was remarkably calm after getting pulled in the ninth inning yesterday, and remarkably calm again while talking to reporters less than an hour later. In between, he could have been exerting his emotions on any number of inanimate objects. I still maintain that his composure in the critical situations was impressive, even if his command of belt-high sinkers to Gerardo Parra and Martin Prado was not.
But the pressure is mounting.
After yesterday’s game, I asked Don Mattingly where the tipping point is — when a pitcher who’s blown four saves can no longer be trusted to save another.
“I’m not sitting here trying to defend Brandon at this point,” Mattingly said. “For the most part, Brandon has been saving games.”
Seems like it’s getting harder to defend a lot of things around this team, and that’s a consequence of pressure.
Onto the bullet points:
• Mattingly said he had no input in the decision to call up Justin Sellers from Triple-A Albuquerque, which is unusual. It might be a stretch to tie in that manager/front-office disconnect to Mattingly’s bullpen management last night, but it does raise a basic question: Why not include the manager in the decision?
• Puig will make his first paid public signing appearance in the City of Industry on June 29.
• Will the preponderance of young, pre-arbitration-eligible players altering their team’s fortunes (Puig, Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, et. al.) change the way teams dole out money to free agents? (Answer: Doubtful.)
• Updated National League Rookie of the Year odds, courtesy of oddsmaker Bovada:
Shelby Miller (STL) 1/1
Yasiel Puig (LAD) 3/2
Hyun-Jin Ryu (LAD) 5/1
• Here is Jose Gonzalez‘s acoustic cover of “Heartbeats” by The Knife: