The Chicago Cubs had a much-needed day off yesterday and were able to lounge in the sun and take their mind off of baseball. The casual fan may not understand the true value of an off day, but anyone who has significant experience in the game of baseball knows that off days can be life-savers.
Playing 162 games in a summer is a brutal schedule but on top of that players also have to travel cross-country, through different time zones, deal with the media, concentrate on their craft and study the upcoming opponent; most of the time, all of that leads to a nine-plus hour day at the ballpark. And going through that kind of routine, day it and day, out can push you to the edge of your sanity.
So on off days most players try and get as far away from baseball as possible (unless they have a plane to catch). Many use the time to play golf, hang out with their families or just loaf around. Getting away from the game is most beneficial to a player who is slumping because they are able to feel the weight lifted off their shoulders for a day. For 24 hours they have no problems at work. They don’t have to talk to the media, they don’t have to see their batting average on the scoreboard, they don’t have to be mentally locked in for 3 hours, nothing.
Often broadcasters and coaches talk about elaborate ways to fix a swing or a mentality of a certain player, but sometimes all it takes is a day or two without holding a bat in your hand. The time off allows players to remove themselves from the game and look at it objectively and simply. Off days are a way to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. So hopefully the Cubs’ players took advantage of their day off yesterday and are ready to come out and face the Boston Red Sox today at Fenway Park tonight.
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