Friday, October 19, 2007

Coming Up Big In The Clutch

Congratulations to Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett who is establishing himself as one of the greatest clutch pitchers of all-time. If you, remember, back in 2003, this was the kid that shut down the Yankees in game six at Yankee Stadium to clinch the World Series for the Marlins. This is the first time he's been back in the playoffs since, and after becoming the first 20-game winner in the majors in two years during the regular season, he's been even better in the playoffs. After last night, he's 3-0, with an ERA somewhere south of 1.50, and he has both the Sox wins vs. the Indians.

Which brings us to the age old quesiton, why do some guys perform better in the clutch than others? I mean, why does A-Rod, for example, or even C.C. Sabathia for this year's Indians, seem to choke in big games, while guys like Beckett and the erstwhile Manny Ramirez turn it up a notch. Is this a psychological thing? If so, what charateristics do Beckett and Manny share, and the same for A-Rod and C.C? Has there been any work or study done on this? The other day, Dr. D made a comment about a field of study that looked at gaps between planning and reality, how about something on clutch-performing? I would think this topic could cover a wider spectrum that sports. I mean, are there doctors that seem great in routine procedures, but choke when a real challenge shows up in the OR? Are there lawyers that are better in high-pressure trials than others? And if so, why? and what can we do to help those that can't perform under pressure?

Just wondering...




DrD said...


Nice work. Run that idea by someone at the university of your choice...a university with a strong psychology/sociology/anthropology department.

It's a tremendous idea for a research project.

We could select the university of our choice, or we can see if KU has any need for the idea.

It might be fun to plant the seed and see what it brings...

Just wondering....


Ralph said...

Yeah, I guess, we probably need to do some intial research to see what's been done, but it seems like a great topic for at least a book-something Malcolm Gladwell might attack. Last night, of course, was another great example of clutch pitching by Curt Schilling. He has some incredible record in games when his team is facing playoff elimination, and Fausto Carmona (the Indians pitcher last night) is a 21-year-old kid who couldn't handle the pressure of being a closer, so they made him a starter. Carmona had a great year, won 19 games, while Schilling struggled. But guess who performed way better under the pressure of last night?
It's got to be some sort of mixture between adrenalin and psychology - or maybe it's a spiritual thing.