=== Don' Try to Bluff ME, eh hoser ===
Maybe the simplest poker tell is the staredown. If an opponent splashes his chips and stares at you real hard, he's trying to back you down. He's hoping you'll fold.
And why would he be hoping that you'll fold? Because if you bet, he'll get caught with weak cards.... now suppose a guy slides a stack of chips in gingerly and looks away meekly, hoping not to do anything to put your sense of danger into gear. Why would he sincerely be wanting you to put chips in?
See, life ain't so hard .... :- )
Dr. D genuinely expected a soft landing for Stephen Pryor. And Eric Wedge is a guy who believes, even more than most managers, in letting a starry-eyed rook ease into the hot tub.
When the White Sox put men on base Saturday, and Paul .370 Konerko came up to the plate, Wedge went out and got the best pitcher. Stephen Pryor.
You ain't bluffing me. You can tell me the M's were still behind, or that the bullpen was low, or whatever. But in that AB, you confirmed everything I've suspected all along. Don't kid a kidder.
=== Short Man ===
Pryor was visibly experiencing a panic reaction when he came in on Saturday. He was huffing and puffing, shoulders high, eyes wide, neck tight. After he was through the inning, they showed him on the bench and he was smiling, but clearly hyperventilating.
Man, who can blame him. It's your career. How many guys have a bad outing or two, and POOF goes the major league career? Happens all the time. What if you had ten minutes to secure your future or not?
Dr. D's day gig is public speaking. He can relate. Pryor was panicking - an involuntary response to a serious, serious threat. This threat was to Pryor's livelihood, his childhood dream, fill in the blank you take it from here.
It didn't matter.
Pryor's mechanics are simple and, for him, his task is hilariously simple. All he REALLY has to do is --- > heave the ball down the middle. He did that. Pryor's ability to execute his specific task is one that withstands stress. The fight-or-flight response calls for large muscle movement. Pryor simply applies his large muscles to the threat. Then he feels better. It's hard-wired into his brain to simply "punch" the threat.
=== Short-Term Role ===
It will take what, two or three weeks, for Pryor to acclimate psychologically. During that time you can pitch him in pressure situations while not putting pressure on him. That's exactly what they did to the 19-year-old Jeff Clarke when speaking to scary audiences. They shoved him out there under the bright lights, and told him hey you're doing great for a rookie. Great job! Great job! Hey, even if it goes wrong, happens to all of us. Aren't you ever going to get one wrong? Oh, you just did... ha, ha, you owe me a burger tomorrow. Hey, great line that one about...
Even the scouts speak in terms of a "nurturing environment." Certainly the M's coaching staff can provide that. The next five appearances don't have to be in blowouts. They just have to be with the understanding that failure is completely understandable.
=== Bring 'Em On Dept. ===
Don't care what you tell me: I don't believe that Stephen Pryor is throwing any better now than he was when the season started. Maybe I only get one vote, mine, but I vote that Pryor is (and will be) a vindication of SSI's griping and moaning about the delay of the Big Five.
Taijuan Walker could come up here right now and set the league on fire. Most fans think he needs to get better. Talk to the hand.
Point's moot. Pryor is up. Why isn't Capps? This time next month they'd be saying "don't let the Mariners take a lead into the seventh."