"Losing is a disease. As contagious as polio" — sports psychologist in "The Natural."
Utilizing psychology is nothing new in sports, including Major League Baseball. The mental part of the game can be of the utmost importance considering the high and relatively even talent level of most who play. The Chicago Cubs, alleged to be responsible in their own way for mental disorders in some fans through the years, are in the market for a new psychologist after letting go of Marc Strickland. He had been with the organization since 2009 and with the big club since 2010.
A typical team psychologist consults away from the ballpark during office hours, but Strickland was different. He reportedly acted like a coach, writes Paul Sullivan in the Chicago Tribune:
Not only was Strickland available for consultation with players, the specialist in sports psychology had his own locker at home and on the road, dressed in team workout gear and played catch and shagged balls before games during batting practice.
Early in his first year in the majors, Strickland even stood in the dugout tunnel at Wrigley Field after victories, bumping fists with players as though he was part of the team.
Former general manager Jim Hendry put an end to that, but he couldn't get rid of Strickland, whom the new owners wanted around.
But sometime during the offseason, ownership terminated the relationship. Team president Theo Epstein had flexed his influence. Apparently letting Strickland act like he was on the team was "divisive," Sullivan reported.
No kidding! Turning a position for a doctor into some kind of cheerleader seems like a very Cubs thing to do. It's great that ownership finally decided to do the right thing, now that three or four years have been lost allowing unprofessional behavior to fester. Hopefully, anybody on the team who needed actual counseling has been getting it, or soon will be.
Whatever the Cubs decide to do to fill the void, they will not be hiring another psychologist like Strickland.
"It'll be somebody with education and training in that area," Epstein said. "The ideal person will have some feel for baseball and will have worked with competitive athletes before."
No word on who makes up for Strickland's loss shagging flies during BP.
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