Saturday, August 22, 2009
Last year's pitching stars of the World Series Champion Phillies team are struggling mightily in 2009. It is interesting that both Cole Hamels and Brad Lidge would be following a similar course after leading the team a year ago, but maybe not coincidental.
There has been much discussion and a great deal of theories on why each of them is finding so much difficulty doing what seemed to come so very easy to them last season. Perhaps that speaks to exactly the root of the problem?
In 2008, both were in the proverbial zone, confidently taking the mound with the expectation of success. They almost did not need to think, nor focus on tinkering with their mechanics in hope of finding answers. One year later, both struggled with injuries early in the season and got off to poor starts, which served to take them out of the zone and shake their confidence.
This season you can almost see the self doubt when they toe the rubber. What was once on autopilot is now in full manual mode, with fears or even expectations that something will go wrong. When they walk a batter or a ball dribbles through the infield, their body language seems to read "uh, oh, here we go, again."
The pathway back to success may be the simplest, yet most elusive adjustment, as it involves the intangible reaches of the human mind. The best remedy for Hamels and Lidge is to keenly focus on the fact that they are the same players that achieved so much success last season. Now that they have recovered from injury, they have the same physical abilities that allowed them to dominate hitters a year ago, so there is every reason to expect the same over the balance of the year.
Simply put, they need to regain their "mojo" by supplanting that nagging voice of negative self talk. My theory is that once they take that step, the other mechanical "issues" will resolve as well. They have still got what it takes..they just need to remind themselves.