In a sense, every athlete has to measure up to play sports.
Just about every game seems to be defined by inches, feet, yards, meters and/or miles in one way or another.
Even individual events — like in track and field, swimming and auto racing — distance themselves by certain lengths of a measuring tape.
Many a competition have been won or lost by some of the smallest of increments. That’s why we have games of inches.
Sometimes it takes even less than that.
But no matter the outcome, every single sporting event is really decided by about half a foot.
That’s the six inches from a player’s left ear to his right.
Sports stories are written and legends are made from the glory of physical feats. Few are remembered for the mentality or thought process it took to achieve them, though.
Here’s some food for thought. How do some teams go from good to bad, and vice versa, and do it in the course of a day, in certain games and the course of a season?
In the words of the late Tug McGraw, “Ya gotta believe.”
And believe it or not, he might have been right.
After all, that became the catchphrase for the 1973 New York Mets in an amazing run to the National League pennant, despite compiling an 82-79 record.
The power of mind over matter becomes a driving force — both for better or for worse.
For example, consider the Baltimore Orioles. Here’s a team that hasn’t finished above .500 or third place since 1997, the last time they won the American League East.
Yet, Baltimore is not only chasing a playoff berth, it is challenging to win the division.
That’s a 24-game turnaround from this point in 2011 on a team that would be considered nondescript by most standards, but the Orioles are hooked on a feeling and high on believing.
How strong is the power of positive thinking? The Orioles have been outscored by 24 runs this season, the lowest output of any of the 12 teams in first or second place in Major League Baseball.
On the other side of the coin is Washington pitcher Stephen Strasburg, who was shut down last Saturday.
The Nationals’ idea of ending their No. 1 starter’s season after 160 to 180 innings to save his surgically repaired right elbow was a controversial lightning rod since the team is in first place and carrying the best record in baseball.
Parasiliti: Measuring up is matter of believing
Bob Parasiliti (Joe Crocetta / April 15, 2012)