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Series Preview #35: D-backs @ Giants

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A kiss for luck
A kiss for luck
Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

GIANTS

This season’s Giants look a lot like last season’s D-backs. The two striking similarities are a poor outfield defense and poor starting pitching, except Bumgarner. At the end of the season, their win-loss record will be just as disappointing to their fans.

Looking to next season, the Giants have all their core players on contract. With twice the payroll as the Diamondbacks they can afford to keep them. However, I see two possibly significant changes next season. First, the Giants may continue to shop Denard Span, who is on contract through 2018, with a team option for 2019. Second, the Giants traded away third baseman Eduardo Nunez. The Giants recently signed Pablo Sandoval to a minor league contract, and he hopes to earn a second chance to play third base for the Giants. It could happen soon. Giants manager Bruce Bochy said, “...when that right time comes it’ll happen. But for right now, we feel that it’s still important for him to get a lot of at-bats.” Aren’t second chances wonderful?!

DIAMONDBACKS

What about the upcoming series with the Giants? This series is a chance for D-backs to sweep a good team that is playing poorly. The key to earning a sweep instead of a series win is winning the game Friday against Madison Bumgarner.

Pitching Matchups

Friday. Anthony Banda (78 ERA+, 7.9 SO/9, 0 BB/9) vs Madison Bumgarner(143 ERA+, 8.4 SO/9, 1.5 BB/9)

On 22 July, Anthony Banda made his first start in the Majors. Against the Nationals he allowed 4 earned runs in 5.2 innings. Because he struck out 5 while allowing no walks, and because the Nationals are better than the Giants, there are good reasons to think he will pitch better against the Giants!

Madison Bumgarner was injured in a dirt bike accident. He missed nearly 3 months. When he returned he pitched very well, maybe even better than before the accident.

Saturday. Taijuan Walker(132 ERA+, 8.4 SO/9, 3.3 BB/9) vs Chris Stratton (55 ERA+, 5.1 SO/9, 5.1 BB/9)

On 30 July against the Cardinals, Walker struck out 10 in 5.2 IP. Has he found a way to get more strikeouts? Maybe yes.

Matt Cain was originally announced as a starter for this game. He would not have given the Giants much hope to win the game. He was replaced with Chris Stratton who will provide even less hope. While Cain had a strikeout to walk ratio of 1.4, Stratton has a ratio of 1.0. This season he has 3 relief appearances and one start. He started against the Tigers and allowed 5 earned runs in 6.2 innings. I predict the mighty-hitting D-backs will score many runs this game.

Sunday. Patrick Corbin (98 ERA+, 8.4 SO/9, 2.7 BB/9) vs Jeff Samardzija (87 ERA+, 9.5 SO/9, 1.2 BB/9)

Patrick Corbin had pitched very well for 6 weeks. Then he pitched against the Cubs and gave their fans joy for three innings. This game will show the Cubs game was an anomaly. I rank Patrick Corbin as the D-backs’ fifth starter. He is solid in that slot and gives the team many chances to win games!

Jeff Samardzija is leading the Majors in strikeouts per walk. His advanced stats (FIP, xFIP, and SIERA) show he is pitching better than his ERA would indicate. Nevertheless, the D-backs can win this game, especially if Corbin pitches a solid game!

State of the Season: Takes a Licking and Keeps on Ticking

The D-backs have had more than their fair share of injuries and injury scares. I am unhappy about that. Their hurts are mentally felt by many fans with compassion and empathy.

The D-backs need to step through the fires and keep on playing well, just like my watch takes a licking and keeps on ticking. The D-backs can do it. Three contributors are: love of the game, top physical conditioning of world class athletes, and great mental habits.

Mental Habit of the Series: Triggers

On 7 July, as I watched a D-backs game, former D-backs manager Bob Brenly said, “Everyone has a trigger to get their body into hitting position.” Triggers are a very interesting mental habit.

What is a trigger?

The principle is that a sensory experience can “set-off” a memory of a prior experience. The sensory experience is called a trigger. In my experience, a trigger can be either a sensory experience or an intellectual experience.

I talked with Carla, a world class athlete and coach. During training, she practices what she will do in each challenging situation. During a competition she thinks about her strategy and what her competition is doing. When a challenging situation occurs, it triggers her to stop thinking as she executes what she practiced.

When I control my triggers, I control myself by “setting-off” a group of memories. Triggers can be physical (for example a unique move that initiates a hitting position), mental (for example self-talk), emotional (for example walk-up music), and perceptual (for example recognize a challenging situation).

Why is triggering my own success difficult?

There are at least four possible reasons. First, I don’t know my success traits so I don’t know what to trigger. My success traits are likely different than they are for other people. About the only way to find them is by trial and error, which can result in many failures. Second, triggering requires conscious effort and often requires thinking ahead. In my experience, conscious effort and thinking ahead are much valued because they are rare. Third, despite my diligent efforts I can lose focus or be distracted by other strong triggers. For example, a beautiful woman blows a kiss at me and as a result I watch a meatball pitch grooved down the center of the plate without swinging. Fourth, shit happens. Even with my success traits, when I play baseball I have a lot of failures.

How can I make my triggers consistent?

Make time to solidly employ my triggers before an event, such as an at-bat. I must be assertive and adamant when other people do not know or do not tolerate my need to employ triggers.

Distractions and other triggers will happen. For example an unfair strike call may happen. Have a 3-second method to restore my triggers. For me, it could be as simple as a quick chuckle to break the undesired trigger and a hearty “Ah ha!” to restore the desired trigger.

How can I make my triggers powerful?

On Facebook, I watched an hour preview of Tony Robbin’s new class, Unleash the Power Within. Although he talked about many important keys to success, one idea was amazing: “priming.”

What is amazing about “priming” is that when I am primed, my triggers are more powerful. When I “prime” myself, I do three things. First, I get my heart and brain in sync. Second, I strengthen my energy flow. Third, I make my intention real and motivating.

In his preview, Anthony Robbins talked about a 10 minute “priming” process. An outline of his process follows.

1. Think of 3 experiences that I feel deeply grateful for. Best are two big experiences (examples are promoted to my dream job and moving to Hawaii) and one everyday experience (example is seeing the ocean). For each experience step into it and go there. Feel blessed, loved, excited, thrilled, and other awesome feelings. Time required is three minutes.

2. Imagine energy flowing into me and energy flowing out of me. Feel gratitude, love, courage, and my valued traits. Let them strengthen in me. Then send them to other people in my life. Time required is 3 minutes.

3. Think of what I want to achieve in this experience. See it, imagine it, sense it, and celebrate it as if it was done. Feel it in my heart and mind. Time required is three minutes.

In summary, everybody has triggers and yet it is difficult to trigger yourself into success. We talked about how to make your triggers more consistent. We talked about how to “prime” yourself to make powerful triggers. Triggers are the mental habit of the series.


“You always succeed in producing a result.” Tony Robbins


“The most important decision is deciding not to suffer anymore, that life is too short, that you are going to find joy and beautiful states in every moment, and you are committed to it even when it doesn’t go your way, even when it rains on your parade.” Tony Robbins