Thursday, September 10, 2009

The confidence game

Tragic number remains at 19; Kansas City beat the Tigers again Wednesday, which has to be at least as unlikely as the Twins beating Roy Halladay.

Broadcaster line of the night: Bert Blyleven, talking about the just-reactivated Francisco Liriano: Sometimes, confidence is all in the mind. Really? It's not located in the big toe? It's just that kind of insight that gets Bert the big bucks.

Baseball players talk a lot about confidence; I suspect there are more quotes from baseball floating around about confidence than there are from football, basketball and hockey put together. Successful players frequently credit their confidence rather than their talent.

I've always figured it was a chicken-and-the-egg thing: Justin Morneau (above) has been slumping for a while, but he hit a homer Wednesday to put the Twins ahead for good. Is he a good hitter because he's confident he can hit, or is he confident he can hit because he's a good hitter? Which one led to Wednesday's home run off Halladay? Can you really split them apart?

It would be understandable if Liriano's confidence is shattered; he's three years removed from his dominating 2006 self, and since then he's had major arm surgery and a revamping of his pitching motion. He doesn't have the velocity he once did. So on what does he base the belief that he's a major league pitcher?

Confidence without the talent (and the ability to use it) is just bravado. It's J.D. Durbin dubbing himself the Real Deal after his first minor league inning. A good arm, but he washed out.

It isn't confidence Liriano needs to find this month in the bullpen; it's something realistic on which to base that belief.

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