They are accustomed to playing in front of fans who—if they show up at all—have little understanding of the game of baseball, and for whom a trip to Coors Field is a chance to enjoy the pretty colors of the uniforms, have a glass of sherry or two, and head home after about five innings with absolutely no concern as to whether their team won or lost. For the players, they are used to playing in front of thoroughly indifferent fans who are just killing time before football season. Rockies management, who actually hold hopes of winning the World Series, brought in a special counselor to try to prepare players for what they are in for in experiencing playoff baseball at Fenway Park.
As the Rockies gathered around in the clubhouse at Fenway yesterday, Irwin Rabley, noted sports psychologist, stood in front of the team and gave them an overview of what playoff baseball in Boston is all about. “To begin with, gentlemen, these fans are not jubilant and excited about the fact that their team is in the playoffs,” he noted, “they expect to win. They do so without any equipment being given to them—no hankies, no rally sticks, no Rockies rocks, nothing. Their primary goal is to root for their team, while unleashing almost unimaginable psychological torment on opposing players. They already know all about your personal lives, and will think nothing of holding up signs and initiating chants designed to exploit any human weakness you may have. While they are loving and adoring of their own team, they will hate you with a burning passion. Your most diabolical torments and nightmares will bring happiness to them. Your anguish is their joy, your downfall their triumph, your tears their laughter. In your unspeakable misery they will find ultimate bliss.”
The team stood, mouths agape.
“I…I have to attend my daughter’s play, so I’ll pitch game three at home,” said tonight’s starting pitcher, a petrified Jeff Francis.
“I’m not going out there,” said Todd Helton. “I’ve got the fattest contract in baseball, and I get paid no matter what.”
“Guys,” manager Clint Hurdle called out. “Guys, I know this is hard, but we can do it. We can win! We can stand up to this Fenway crowd! Who’s with me? Let’s go!” Hurdle then hurdled out of the clubhouse expecting the rest of the team to follow him.
Helton, meanwhile whipped out his laptop. “I’m getting the next flight out of here,” he said. “Who’s with me?”
“Let’s go!” the team shouted.
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