Claiming a spot in postseason baseball feels like solidifying a spot in the promised land.
As a Los Angeles Angels fan, I cannot help but feel like a poor, poor sinner who is being forbidden from seeing the golden-paved roads.
Los Angeles Dodger fans, on the other hand, are like Adam and Eve. They were so close to getting everything they wanted, but instead messed up last-minute. The Dodger’s forbidden fruit in this case is Clayton Kershaw.
With his 4.43 ERA through 9 postseasons, Kershaw is famous for choking in October to the point of needing CPR.
The Dodgers met the Washington Nationals in the National League Division Series and went five games just for Washington to come out on top. With the Dodgers leading 3-1 in the eigth inning of the decisive Game 5, Kershaw allowed back-to-back home runs resulting in a tie game. The Nationals went on to win 7-3 in 10 innings.
Fans were running over Kershaw’s jersey after the game. For what reason? These are the people who would break a sweat while saying a short speech. Meanwhile, Kershaw is performing at sold-out stadiums.
Despite rooting for a rival team, I’m going to stick up for Kershaw. Postseason pressure is more than real.
An article by The Sporting News dives into the psychology of choking in sports. Choking is when a player or team does not perform to the ability they are expected to. This happens for many reasons. The article explains that athletes, and in my opinion every human, likes to feel in control. When fans, journalists and coaches expect a specific performance, the player no longer feels he or she has control over their actions.
As they climb the ladder of success, it seems as if the pressure should be relieved, because now it is their job. Professional athletics is built on pressure. The reason they are on display for millions to overanalyze and critique is that they are the best of the best. What are Americans best at? Judging. Anyone involved in the sports world knows this, which is why they all pretend not to know.
If I had a dollar for every time a player said they pay no attention to scouts, family or friends in the stands, I would have my college paid off. But if I had a dollar for every time a coach acknowledged the lack, excess or expectancy of crowd attendance, I would surpass a journalist salary post-graduation.
The two comments always butt heads in postgame interviews, so who is lying to themselves: the, “I’m zoned in the second I step on the court,” mentality or the, “We will have to see how they perform with a larger crowd than usual,” comment?
I think both are pressured as hell, and the, “Fake it ‘til you make it,” motto is overdone and unhelpful.