I've heard that some teams have practiced celebrating winning a championship. Get everyone in the dugout, and practice running out into a pig pile.
It's not because they need to figure out the logistics of the dash from the dugout, or want to make sure everyone can do it without tripping. It's because they want everyone to get in the proper mindset. Personally, I think it's a bit overboard. But, they want the team to think like a champion. Imagine themselves doing it. Get it in their heads that this could actually happen to them. That actually makes a little sense, even if it goes to far.
So, if pretending to accomplish something is helpful, how great would it be to actually do it? That has to be better. Right? That's exactly what the Red Sox have accomplished over the last few days. They had been struggling is a few areas. The offense was hit or miss (pun intended). Their bullpen was blowing games left and right. Their starters were starting, but not exactly finishing. They were in a spiral.
Then they weren't.
The last four games saw the Sox actually be successful at things that had troubled them the week before. And they didn't even have to pretend. They did it.
Their offense came alive. They saw very clearly that they could score runs. Lots of runs. Off a good pitcher. They saw that the starters could work deep enough to get the win. (Even Clay's short outing was due more to his spot start than his performance.) They saw that the bullpen could hold a lead. Even more important, they saw that one guy struggling does not always lead to a tailspin. If one guy walks the bases loaded, the next guy can strike out the side. It can happen. It can happen against bad teams. And, today, it happened against a first place club.
Because that was really the one piece missing. Sure, they can beat up on the doormats of the National League in Fenway. But, they have a lot of tough games coming up. Tough road games. Can they do it in those games too?
Yes. Yes they can.
They went into Cleveland on a one game stopgap, and took down the division leaders. Their starter went deep. Their hitters hit home runs off a guy who gives up a lot of them. Their bullpen closed it out.
The Red Sox can do it. We all just saw them do it. They can keep doing it.
They didn't even have to practice it beforehand.
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