Carleton: Writing about relationships in baseball

From Russell Carleton at Baseball Prospectus on July 18, 2018:

I want to write about relationships, and I have no idea how to do that. I suppose I have some qualifications; I still technically have a degree in clinical psychology (although it’s been a long time since I used it!), but couples therapy was never my thing. And that’s not the kind of relationship that I want to write about, either. I want to write about baseball relationships, and I have no idea how to do that.

That bugs me.

A while ago, I happened to be flipping AM radio stations in my car, when I accidentally broke one of the cardinal rules of radio listening (don’t listen to the comments sect … erm, sports talk radio). On the air, one of the hosts, who seemed to have played in the majors, was telling a story about how he credited former big-league outfielder Lance Johnson for “taking me under his wing.” It’s not an original story. I’ve heard some variation of it about 500 times from 500 different players. But that’s the point. Even that phrase “took me under his wing” is so universal in players’ own recounting of their emergence from their own eggshells that it’s kind of a cliché.

How can something that’s so common within the game—in this case, the formation of mentor relationships between older and younger players—be so absent from any of the work that’s been done among baseball analysts? Seriously, how have we missed that one? Players, whether they are right or completely delusional, often credit some non-trivial and occasionally huge percentage of their own successes in the game to the influence of one particular mentor. We’ve never really shied away from any other topic, but aside from maybe a few half-hearted attempts at figuring out “chemistry,” this one apparently didn’t even register on the radar. I guess we were too busy tracking how fast the ball was spinning.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: July 18, 2018. Last Updated: July 18, 2018.