March 25, 2011
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The New York Yankees know what pressure is all about. They have been its posterboy since as far back as the days when you see highlight clips of hitters who seem to be running the bases really fast but actually aren’t and pitchers with insane windups, crazy leg kicks and flailing arms (that are basically all balks). Yeah, that far back.
You hear of the Yankee greats who have stared pressure directly in its daunting, manipulative face, spat in it, and screamed “Fuck you, Pressure!!!” only to go on and win a hand full of championships (see Jeter, Derek). You also hear of the total wussies that get lured to New York with millions of dollars to help win a World Series, only to run out of town, left only with a foot in the ass and a pair of shit-stained baseball tights (see Pavano, Carl). Not all players can handle it. The Yankees have been blessed with leaders over the years that lift others above the pressure in order to succeed. We all know and cannot deny that the Philadelphia Phillies have assembled one of the seemingly most deadly starting four rotation in recent history. If you ask any expert, writer, or unbiased baseball fan (oxymoron), the Phillies are the clear front-runners to win the World Series. Actually, they are a lock for a Championship.
I live and work in Center City Philadelphia. The morning after the Phillies signed Cliff Lee just before Christmas, the entire city was celebrating as if the Phillies had won the World Series, minus the parade. Seriously, people were jumping up and down and hugging strangers that sported any hint of red. As a Yankee fan who has experienced a lifetime of marquee signings, I have learned that you do NOT win a World Championship in the off-season unless your’re playing MLB The Show on PS3.
You cannot underestimate the force that pressure has on an athlete’s psyche and ability to perform. Some elevate their game, many do not. After the off-season they had, the Phillies must win the World Series this year. They just have to. Everything else is a complete failure. That’s a lot of pressure. The last time the Yankees had to win a Championship following an off season that added Mark Teixeira and C.C. Sabathia, well, they did. They just…did.