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Clothes and Clutch

CC wants to be like Mike.
CC wants to be like Mike.

This post is really two posts (ok, maybe it's four), but that's life.

I have an interview shirt (royal blue with a slight texture) that I wear with a blue and white striped tie on first interviews.  I'm 3-0 in the jobs I've worn this.  I honestly believe that being comfortable with how I look, feeling good about it, relaxes me in those big moments.  I don't think I'm better because of how I dress, but I'm sure it doesn't hold me back.  Being as comfortable as possible allows me to perform to my full potential.

I think the ideas of 'clutch' and 'choke' work the same way, especially in baseball.  The bright lights, the pressure, the lifetime of sacrifice and hard work spent building to this specific moment can wilt many superstars.

The performances we remember are rarely guys doing the impossible (Bucky Dent hits 23 home runs in 2900 PA before October 2, 1978; posts a .255/.302/.329 lines- then hits a legendary home run and goes on to take the World Series MVP with a .417 BA).

More often, the performances we remember are players doing exactly what we expect them to do, exactly what we hope they'll do.  Tex walks off last October, Jeter goes 5 for 5 opening the playoffs against the Tigers, Rivera shuts down another team.  For most guys, I imagine comfort in their routine allows them to focus, disappear into the game, rather than getting lost in the moment.

So I'm always irritated by umps who make players change clothes and gear because you're taking a guy out of his routine.

But when Joe West forced CC Sabathia to change his shoes back in Boston, he also put CC's AirJordans* in the spotlight.


I was never a big fan of hi-tops.  Because of trouble with my Achilles tendons (eventually corrected by surgery), hi-tops were really painful for me to wear.  I had a pair for my (mercifully) brief basketball career, but the sneakers I loved were a pair of black and white Airwalks.  I've never had another pair of sneakers fit my feet so well, and I wore them until they fell apart.


But the bigger question, to me, is why does a player have to change his shoes mid game, so long as there's nothing about the shoes that distract the batter, allow the pitcher an unfair advantage, or conceal an illegal substance.

The NFL and the NBA collect fines for uniform violations, and the NFL donates those to charity.  Why doesn't MLB do the same?  The owners, the players and the sport could use the good PR that comes with charity donations.  Instead, in the rare event of a uniform fine, that money gets divided by the 30 teams (that makes sense, more revenue sharing!).