Thursday, June 14, 2012

Baseball Trash Talk

Baseball is an odd game.

For a long list of reasons it is different than the other major sports.  One reason is the lack of trash talk within the game compared to football, hockey, soccer and basketball.  In those sports quality trash talking is as much a strategy as setting a pick or calling an audible.  There are no pleasantries exchanged between a wide receiver and a cornerback or any player on the ice during a hockey game.

The goal is to get into your opponent’s head, try to take them out of the game psychologically.  If you can get the other guy frustrated with you, then he is not thinking about executing his team’s game plan.  In all of these other sports players are closer to each other than in baseball. There is plenty of opportunity to put your opponent down verbally when at the line of scrimmage or going after a puck in the corner.

There is not quality opportunity to trash talk in baseball. How would it look if a hitter started mother f-ing the pitcher while he walked into the batter’s box? What if the catcher started making derogatory remarks about the hitter’s mother? Is a base runner going to be less focused if the first baseman starts undercutting his self-esteem?  It doesn't do any good. You just seem like a jerk.

No, trash talking doesn’t have much place in baseball. The games are too long and you play too often. It is easy to get worked up for one game a week in football or a couple games a week in basketball when you play each team one at a time.

Baseball is every day. It consists of three- and four-game series against the same team. Who wants to go out four days in a row during a series and try to come up with new insults every day for these guys? That sounds exhausting.

Besides, there is no room inside an opposing player’s head because he is already in it.  Hitters and pitchers alike are trying to avoid outthinking themselves in every at-bat.  If you want to get inside your opponent’s head on the baseball field, you do it physically.

And I do not mean you threaten to beat him up.

You threaten to beat him with your physical tools. The potential of your physical ability on the field is what really psyches out the opposing team.  If you are a base stealing threat, then your tool of speed will get in the cranium of a pitcher, catcher and manager.  That has way more effect than lobbing derogatory remarks at the pitcher about his girlfriend.

If a pitcher has a hitter thinking about his mid-90’s heater, that’s when he can drop a knee-buckling curve over the zone and freeze him for strike three.  If the right fielder has a great arm, that cannon can keep the third base coach from sending a runner home.

This is baseball. Don’t curse out the pitcher. Make him curse out himself after you take his fastball and deposit it into the centerfield seats. He won’t remember that “your mamma joke” when you face him again in a couple weeks, but he will remember the casual pace of your home run trot. 

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