Many times baseball goes head to head in close games, but does that mean it is okay to “take an eye for an eye?” As temperatures have risen over the past few weeks so have the tempers in baseball. A high number of players have gotten fined for bad behavior.

During the Angels – Tiger’s game the competition between two Cy Young candidates, Angels pitcher Jered Weaver and Tiger’s pitcher Justin Verlander was intense They were battling for the win. Weaver not only gave away two home run pitches, he also lost control of his emotions. Tiger’s Carlos Guillen sensed Weaver’s frazzled nerves. He played on it by taunting him after a home run hit.

Well, Weaver’s meltdown did not stop there. He went so far as to throw his next pitch near the head of Alex Avila, a gesture completely out of line according to the code of ethics.

The high pitch by Weaver was an obvious indication of his frustration known as a surface issue. But what was really going on underneath leading up to that? The truth of the matter is Weaver was upset with himself for giving away two home run pitches in this tight game. He let his guard down. Instead of keeping his head in the game he began to take things personally.

Guillen keenly observed Weaver’s agitation and took advantage of the situation. The most interesting part is Weaver feeding into Guillen’s goading. In reality Weaver actually gave Guillen control over his emotions. With Weaver’s guard being down he was allowing Guillen to push his buttons. When Guillen realized his advantage to undermine Weaver he took the opportunity playing it fully out.

Weaver tried to regain the power he gave away by throwing his ball high at Avila. At this point, it was too little too late. He was already a broken man in this game.

It was easier to become irritated with opposing players than to look at the thoughts going through his head. He was literally fanning his own fire with his thoughts, allowing things to get under his skin. This never would have occurred if he had the tools to maintain his game face under the most strenuous circumstances.

Why do players cross the line, leading to meltdowns? Players losing composure during a game end up revealing more than they realize. When players begin to allow their inner critic to step into the game, they become prone for letting things get under their skin.

Self doubt and frustration create a crack in the armor. Anger becomes a reaction to circumstances. Lost composure leads to outbursts.

  • Losing integrity is never acceptable. Intimidating players on the other team is one thing. Teaching someone a lesson is intolerable.
  • Losing composure during a game reveals a weak mental game. Pitchers know exactly what they are doing. Throwing a ball at head level is reckless behavior.
  • Anger contributes to poor decisions. Losing your temper is poor sportsmanship revealing your weaknesses.

Players will not always have games go their way. Such is life. It is not; however, a reason to begin acting like a child. Children have temper tantrums. Professionals are expected to maintain composure, managing their behavior.

Sportsmanship means good conduct. Anything less than that is unsatisfactory. Weaver defended his behavior claiming, “There’s a line that needs to be drawn. If they want to play the game that way, that’s the way it’s going to be.” Well, that is a lame excuse. Respect is never earned by retaliation.

Weaver has the opportunity to learn from this event. He will be in the same situation again. Will he maintain his composure?

There is a solution. Preparation beforehand would have led to a different response. As a result he wouldn’t now be facing a six game suspension during a crucial part of the season.

Game face, the tool to maintain composure no matter what.  Basically a series of events led to a break down in Weaver’s performance. He is unable to control hits, players or conditions. He is able to influence his perception and response. The proper mindset training will teach him how to adapt, shift and respond in all negative situations, viewing them as challenges instead of problems.

Learning to maintain composure under all circumstances will improve a players overall performance. Any baseball player suspended, fined or removed from the game ought to be required to speak with a sports performance consultant or sports psychologist. Mental game skills are teachable.

Instead of viewing this as a punishment players ought to seek mindset coaching to strengthen their mental game. There wouldn’t be resistance to improving technique in order to better their game. Mental game training teaches technique for improved performance as well. The primary reason a player would resist this opportunity to strengthen their game is because their ego is afraid something weak will be revealed about them.

Activity: Get a sheet of paper and write down all the things which would cause you to lose your cool when competing. Don’t worry, no one is looking. Now think about your game face. How could you respond differently so those things don’t get under your skin causing you to lose composure? If you don’t know right away observe other athletes who are more easy going. How do they brush something off which would cause you to get angry? Think about how you could adapt a cooler attitude when competing, to maintain composure. Then practice your new response prior to the real thing testing you.