Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Mental Edge...

Call it clutch, grit, savvy or whatever other term you like, but there is something to be said for teams that have it.

It's a mental toughness that's honed from discipline, and it is what helps players stay in control and rise to the occasion when nothing seems to be working right.

It's true enough, a baseball game is usually won on the back of talent. Very few teams however, have all the best talent and even if they do, it's no guarantee for success.

This is probably never more true than when it comes to pitching, as it so dominates most games. Ted Lilly is a prime example of having that mental edge. Unlike Zambrano, who has demonstrated to many times to mention, blowing up when things don't go your way, shows you just don't get it.

When Lilly doesn't have his best stuff, he's still capable of keeping his team in the game. It's true that his team still has to support him defensively and at the plate, but Lilly has demonstrated he understands that as a pitcher, he still has an advantage over the hitter, no matter how much his stuff is off. This is the true mark of an effective pitcher.

The overhaul of the position players has also contributed mightily to the Cubs recent surge. Again, these replacements certainly do not have the talent of a Yankee lineup but they are fundamentally sound. They also have demonstrated they get it, with their desire to succeed and willingness to accept their roles.

Who can tell where the Cubs will finish in the NL Central. Seven and a half games back is a tough hurdle to overcome, but the Cubs are finally starting to perform and act like a team, and is a welcome sight and long overdue.

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