Sunday, April 13, 2008

Biorhythms In Sport: Baseball


It’s been five months since the Mets blew a seven-game lead with seventeen to play, completing a collapse for the ages. Baseball statistician Bill James rated it the third-worst in baseball history. On the last day of the season, the Mets needed a victory over the Florida Marlins, a crummy team with half their spikes already on their La Guardia charter. New York sent 300-game-winner Tom Glavine to the mound. He retired only one batter. The Mets lost, 8-1. After the game, manager Willie Randolph had tears in his eyes.

It was a just conclusion. In retrospect, the 2007 Mets were the antithesis of a championship team; it just took a complete 162-game season to prove it. There were bungled front-office moves, namely Minaya’s firing hitting coach Rick Down and replacing him with Rickey Henderson, who last distinguished himself in a Mets uniform by playing cards in the clubhouse during the 1999 playoffs. By July, Jose Reyes had quit running out ground balls and descended into a second-half pout that even Rickey had to admire. Then slumping first-baseman Carlos Delgado told reporters in September that the team was so talented it sometimes got “bored.” You know the rest.

Baseball is a game of contagious confidence when you’re winning, infectious depression when you’re losing. “You can’t really know why this thing happened,” Randolph told me after a spring-training game. “Why did Colorado win 21 out of 22 games? Were they the best team in the National League? No.” The usually placid manager moved his right arm up and down, mimicking a parabola. “I believe in vibes and biorhythm. These are humans playing a game, not robots. It’s all about rhythm.”

No comments: