Psycho-analyzing professional athletes is a risky proposition for anybody. Presumably coaches or teammates can do so thanks to familiarity, but I would think they still must tread carefully. For dude on the couch to presume he knows the root cause of athlete’s struggles is an entirely separate issue. Yet you still hear rumblings like these when athletes come up short:
“He doesn’t care about the team’s success. He’s selfish.”
“He’s so lazy. He just doesn’t work hard.”
“He was trying to do too much. He was trying to win the game all by himself.”
To make such personal claims about guys we watch on TV is silly, right? I don’t have any idea what’s going through Carlos Gonzalez’s head when he appears to not run out a ground ball. Of course it is reasonable for me to say, “I wish he would have run harder,” but any other claim about his thought process is a waste of my energy. We can understand that baseball has a huge psychological aspect to it, but to then try and diagnose what players are thinking is probably not a very useful exercise.
That’s what made Troy Renck’s article about Troy Tulowitzki this morning especially interesting. In the past Tulo has struggled to come through in big spots, especially when they were most visible (in a tie game, 9th inning, etc.). The prevailing opinion, it seemed, was that he was “trying to do too much,” “always trying to be the hero,” etc. I was among those who indulged those speculations. Well, Tulo confirmed that we were right. How about that? As quoted in the article:
With my at-bats with runners in scoring position, it was already a pressure situation and I had the whole place going crazy chanting my name. At times it was tough for me. I tried to do too much…It’s really paid dividends now, especially on the road, because the situations I have faced the crowd has been the loudest. I am more comfortable.”
So hey, the guy is a human being. It is refreshing for him to be candid about his struggles in the past and what he did to try and fix them. Considering how ridiculously clutch he has been this season and considering his .346/.411/.635 line this season, I would say it’s working out so far.
Speaking of chanting Tulo’s name, let’s wrap this up by remembering the days when it all started (video courtesy of MLB):