07.28.08 10 years ago 10 Comments

Despite their early-season flirtation with the top of the standings, the Royals are back to foundering somewhere near the bottom of the AL Central. Thankfully at least the Indians are there to cushion their fall. To assist with dealing with the mental and emotional strife that accompanies being on ateam that would have to win a few more games to even be hopeless, the Royals have brought on a sports psychologist to help their players deal with failure through the power of daily affirmations.

The Royals were stumbling through another loss when the newest member of the organization walked into an empty room overlooking the field at Kauffman Stadium. A 53-year-old psychologist sat in a cushioned chair, glanced down at the diamond and began to explain.

“My job here,” Andrew Jacobs said over the sound of fans, “is to be of assistance to the players and coaches to help them mentally deal with whatever it is they have to deal with, whether it’s a personal issue or a professional issue.”

The piece in the Kansas City Star focuses on how the field of sports psychology has propagated throughout various sports through the application of empirical research and rigorous application of study, a point completely torpedoed by the following anecdote. 

Indeed. As Jacobs talked Wednesday afternoon, the Royals were foundering against the Tigers. They had yet to put a base runner aboard, much less rack up a hit. After a while, Jacobs paused, looked at the scoreboard and frowned.

“It’s a perfect game through five innings.”

Jacobs kept talking, but like team officials, he declined to say specifically what he does to help the Royals play better, citing confidentiality. But he was quick to point out he’s a trained, licensed professional, not some kind of magic man or palm reader.

He paused again. He studied the field. By now it was the seventh inning, and the Royals were still without a hit or a walk.

“I have a feeling they’re going to get a hit this inning.”

Thirty seconds later, David DeJesus lined the ball to right field for a single.

I hope he pressed his index fingers to his temples as he was making that prediction, then doffed his wizard cap and made a series of bizarre incantations intended to keep the next hitter from grounding into a double play. Then when the hitter did anyway, the team burned Jacobs on a massive pyre. Nothing pleases the fans like bonfire night.

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