Monthly Archives: July 2011

The Yips

Parallel parking is easy when practiced in front of your house with cones and trash cans. It does, however, become infinitely more difficult when attempted in front of a swanky restaurant in between a BMW 7-Series and a Maserati with outdoor diners picking apart your every mistake. Soon, passerby begin to gravitate just to watch you take the wrong angle and start over for the umpteenth time. Put enough pressure on yourself while allowing the situation power over you, and you’ll fail more at parallel parking than Meadow Soprano.

Meadow can't park...

If you’re the type who’ll park three blocks away and pay $10 to avoid parallel parking in front of everyone, then you may have a case of the yips.

The yips are dangerous. Powerful enough to end careers and contagious enough to shun those afflicted, the yips are that little anxiety monster that grows and grows and eventually takes over in pressure situations.

In the athletic arena, it could look like Chuck Knoblauch launching short throws from second base into the stands, or Jean Van de Velde scattering golf shots all over the last hole to lose the British Open, or Mark Wohlers unable to find the strikezone, or LeBron James disappearing in the fourth quarter in the NBA Finals, or any Florida State kicker when trying beat the University of Miami. Those are just a few examples but the list is miles long of athletes who can do their task without trouble when no one is watching only to fail miserably when the lights burn brightest.

Some call it ‘white line’ syndrome. Step on the playing surface between the white lines of the football field, basketball court, baseball field, or parking space and the athlete can begin to over-think the most mundane of tasks. Short field goals become tricky, free throws are impossible, throwing strikes are out of the question, and parallel parking is calamitous.

Yours truly even yipped a stop sign some years ago. You know, those big, red octagonal warnings that have stop written across? I had a date in the passenger’s seat and my mind was preoccupied and sure enough, whoop-whoop! The policeman lectured me on paying more attention (no ticket!) and did understand that the sign was behind a large banyan tree. But had I been driving alone I certainly would have been locked in on the stop sign. The circumstances of my date and trying to think about saying all the right things led me to completely yip a stop sign!

Fortunately, no one was hurt and I have since learned from that experience. I have yet to miss a stop sign since! The yips can drive those afflicted one of two ways: Learn from them and improve, or, succumb to them and wash out.

When Rory McIlroy yipped away the Master’s many thought he would struggle in future similar situations. But he learned from the experience and won the very next major tournament convincingly. The aforementioned Van de Velde never came close to winning another major tournament ever again.

From champion to wading in muck: The Yips

So fear not. You may have badly screwed up that last date when you spilled all that wine on his smartphone and white Brooks Brothers shirt. Now you know you have to concentrate a little more when pouring wine. But don’t avoid that same situation; that would be succumbing to the yips. And don’t avoid parallel parking either. Find a teensy-weensy spot during happy hour between a Bentley and a Mercedes and yell “Take notes!” as you put on a show one-timing the parking job and saying “You’re welcome,” to the group ready to pounce on your smallest mistake.

No one really knows how to defeat the yips, but apprehension certainly isn’t the cure. Might as well be aggressive…

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Filed under Baseball, Basketball, Dating, Football, Golf, Yips

The Pickle

Editor’s Note: The following scenario is merely hypothetical and in no way reflects the true wholesome nature of the devoted readers of Eye Black & Rouge.

Imagine the confident new advertising executive sweeps you off your feet and asks you out for drinks after work. You agree because he has the George Clooney thing going on and Ocean’s 11 is one of your favorite movies.

You know you probably shouldn’t go for drinks but saying no would be impolite, right? One chardonnay and you’re telling him you have to let your nonexistent dog out of your apartment.

You walk through the door he’s holding for you (of course, right?) and you glance toward the bar only you notice the guy you really like who you’ve been dating for a few weeks is the bartender. Your ‘hubby’ told you he was a bartender but not at which bar.

You’re in a pickle, sister…

On one side is Clooney; your superior at work. On the other is the bartender who may be slightly less than a boyfriend but you can feel the invite to meet his parents coming soon (and you’re looking forward to it).

The Greeks would call it caught between Scylla and Charybdis. Those who did not pay attention in Greek mythology class would call it between a rock and a hard place. But baseball people call it a good old fashioned pickle.

In baseball, a pickle (or run-down) occurs when a baserunner is caught between two bases with a fielder at each base. The fielder with the ball chases the baserunner toward a base and when the time is right, throws the ball to the other fielder to tag the runner out. The runner, seeing that the ball has gone from one fielder to the other, stops and runs away from the fielder who just received the ball. A thrown ball will always travel faster than the runner so the runner is trapped.

This continues until the runner is eventually tagged out. And the runner is usually 99% of the time tagged out at the pro level very quickly. The fielders are too good, too fast, and the odds are too long for the runner which is why being in a pickle feels like there’s no way out (in both baseball and in life).

But you think on your feet. You’re smart and you see a small window out of this ad executive/bartender situation (not the bathroom window; you’re not a coward). You confidently lead Clooney straight over to the bar and introduce him to your bartender guy.

“Uh, this is my boyfriend, Sam,” you begin gesturing toward the bartender. “Sam, this is our new advertising executive. I thought it would be good for you two to meet. Sam, my boyfriend, has so many good ideas. He’s always critiquing commercials when they come on TV,” you explain. “What’s that idea you’re always talking about?”

Sam then launches into his idea of Subway or Quiznos selling 3″ sub ‘bullets’ so people can try a variety of sandwiches in one meal. Clooney is listening intently and since you did your homework, you know he’s on the Quiznos account. They’re hitting it off and you’re starting to breathe easier. You got your boyfriend’s (he is now) ideas in front of the right guy, Clooney some fresh ideas, and yourself out of a pickle that wasn’t looking too promising.

One glass of chardonnay? Better make it two…

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Filed under Baseball, Dating, Pickle

Double plays and multitasking

You completely space out on a friend’s birthday that’s starting in about an hour. The friend is too close to only give a card and you have just enough time to stop at one location for the gift because you conveniently remembered her birthday one hour prior to her party.

You’re not giving a gift certificate because you’re way better than that.

What to do?

You’re a multitasking maven so you’re going to kill two birds with one stone and you’re going to one-up every gift at the party because that’s just what you do.

You need to be athletic to turn a double play not unlike having to sprint through the mall to buy a gift, cake, and a card in high heels...

You’re going to turn a double play. Normally in baseball, the defense gets one out a time. But with a typical double play, the defense fields the ball, forces the runner out at second and the hitter out at first all on one pitch!

The double play is an exciting event that gets the pitcher out of a jam just like the one you’re in right now with your friend. It’s known as the ‘pitcher’s best friend.’

Two outs with one pitch; two birds dead with one stone. But what about your predicament with your friend’s party? How do you get out of that jam?

Easy. Go to your ‘good’ mall; you know, the one that doesn’t have a little kids’ train circling the area. Head to Nordstrom. Pick out your friend’s gift (I can’t help

Who knew Nordstrom had the best chocolate cake? You do now...

you here because I don’t know her, obviously). Stay in Nordstrom and go to the cafe and ask for a slice of chocolate cake to go (your friend might already have cake, but the chocolate cake at Nordstrom is the best ever so you’re going to be the hit of the party). As you’re walking out of the mall, stop by Border’s or Barnes & Noble to get a birthday card and to validate your parking ticket (more free terrific advice).

Do that, and you’ll be early for the party with your gift, the best cake ever, and a birthday card. That’s more than a double play. You just turned a triple play; three birds with one stone.

You’re welcome, bird-killer…

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Filed under Baseball, Food