Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Looking for the EDGE

ESPN mag had an article I have to share with a fan of any sport. Because the World Cup is happening and we fans, new to watching soccer, are learning the nuances of this game and along the way are discovering a familiar theme, something referred to as flopping.

Alyssa has some good takes I'd like to share.

"Everyone lives by selling something." When Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson spoke these words the game of basketball had yet to be invented. Yet he might as well have been giving a pregame speech to an NBA playoff team.

Selling a foul, in any sport, is no different from selling a Ford. Whether it's pass interference, a double-play tag or straight-out World Cup flop, sales is a professional athlete's side job. And any great salesman will tell you that the art of selling is in the details: subtle yet persuasive body language, the fostering of relationships, building a reputation.

"...Qualification. Where a salesman finds out what a person needs and will say yes to.
Tom Hopkins, author of how to Master the Art of Selling says, "Refs, like all people, are influenced by the way they feel about the person who is selling to them, by their reputation and by whether they like and trust the person. As a salesman it is important to know the people who can affect your long-term success, and that means knowing every ref in the league."

In the end, you can't stop players from trying to sell. All you can do is try to keep them from being successful.

I especially like the 'knowing every ref in the league' because I have always felt pitchers and catchers need to know an umpire's tendencies. Since it is they who have to adjust to the umpire I always wanted to know what each and every umpire preferred to call.

J.T. Snow, doing a Sunday broadcast with David B. Fleming, mentioned how the Giants began the game pitching to an umpire's tendencies. Saying the scouting report on this umpire is exactly how they are pitching. The umpire is known for calling the "high" strike and that's where they are going with it and darn it, it's working!

Back when Dusty Baker was managing the Giants I emailed KFOG a question that the KFOG deejay asked Dusty. It was, do you have a scouting report for the umpires and do you pay as close attention to it as you do the scouting report on your opponent and he answered emphatically, Yes, we do.

He didn't want to give away any trade secrets but sport is all about finding a way to get an advantage over your opponent and if knowing a home plate umpire's tendencies is a way to score runs or prevent the opponent from scoring you have your edge.

(thanks again to Alyssa)

Kevin Marquez