SAN DIEGO – There aren’t many people within Major League Baseball who can truly appreciate or recognize what Jose Altuve is going through with his sudden inability to do something that he has successfully accomplished hundreds of thousands of years ago. times – do a single throw.
Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker admitted that Altuve could slip into one of baseball’s darkest corners, one that thrills players just hearing the word: “yips.”
“You just hope he doesn’t get the yips, because invariably they come in groups,” Baker said after Altuve made two mistakes in the second ALCS game. “I just told him to rinse it off. I mean, this guy has been awesome to us, and you gotta rinse him off and move on or else it just multiplies. ”
Altuve didn’t make a single pitching error during the regular season, but committed four games in nine playoff games this season, including three in the last two days, each a backbreaker, which allowed a Tampa Bay Rays total eight points to score.
In the game, getting the “yips” is defined as the unexpected inability to perform one of the simplest acts the game requires: accurately throwing a baseball.
Steve Sax, former Rookie of the Year, five-time All-Star and two-time World Series champion, suffered the yips of the 1980s. He led the majors with 30 errors in 1983, still a record for a runner-up. goal. He knows firsthand what Altuve is suffering from.
“I can smell for Jose,” Sax said when contacted by phone. “There is nothing worse in the world. It is the loneliest place to be. It’s embarassing. It’s just awful. I hope he can figure this out as soon as possible because this thing is very simple. It’s right in front of him. So many people are going to say, “Oh, Jose, you have a mental block. ” This is not the case. He has a temporary loss of confidence. It has nothing to do with his mental state. Something made him question his abilities, which is why he is doing it. When he has confidence, it will go away. ”
Sax is part of a fraternity that includes pitcher Steve Blass, a 19-game winner for the 1972 Pirates at the age of 30 who has pitched just 93⅔ more and 91 batters during that time, and wide receiver Mackey Sasser, who used to do the return shots. at the pitcher in his glove several times and then missed when he counted.
Then there was the story of Rick Ankiel, who was drafted in the second round as a highly touted high school prospect in 1997. Ankiel was pitching in the 2000 playoffs for the Cardinals when he suddenly couldn’t pitch a strikes. In four playoff innings that year, Ankiel scored 11 batters and pitched nine wild shots. He was then converted to an outfielder and ended up playing until 2013.
Sax is one of the few who got over his problems, being named to three All-Star teams after that disastrous 1983 season.
Altuve is the third second baseman in recent years to join the club, along with Sax and Chuck Knoblauch. Like Altuve, Knoblauch won a golden glove for superior defensive performance earlier in his career before acquiring the yips. He went from winning a golden glove in 1997 to committing a total of 31 mistakes in the 1999 and 2000 seasons.
“It’s the only thing he thinks about,” Sax said. “That’s all he’s thinking about right now. He is the loneliest person in the world and it is difficult because you are a professional athlete and he is one of the best players in the game. I would tell him that there is nothing wrong there is no there is nothing crazy. It’s actually simple if you go out of your own way. There is an end to it. The problem is, he’s going to sleep with it, when he eats it’s all he thinks about. He wakes up thinking about this. It is a terrible place to be. “