There are two things you can bank on with regard to Orioles designated hitter Jim Thome. He’s going to go into the Hall of Fame someday, probably on the first ballot, and he’s going to give it to you straight when you ask him a question.
So, considering what is going to happen later today, it seems like a good time to ask him a little bit about what it takes to have a successful playoff mindset. He’s been there. He knows what it takes to reach the postseason and perform. He has played in 15 postseason series and is among the all-time leaders with 17 playoff home runs.
“I think if you stay within yourself, you know, and just enjoy the ride,’’ he said. “Let it all play itself out. Don’t try to think too much and enjoy the moment and understand you can’t be a hero every at-bat. The statistics say that’s not going to happen, but you might get that one big hit and then let the other guy behind you do something. You do it when you can do it.”
That sounds like good advice for his younger teammates, who have so much of what manager Buck Showalter calls “want-to” and may have a tendency to try and swing too hard and do too much in a one-and-done playoff game.
“The anxiety and the adrenalin and all that plays a big part,’’ Thome said. “That’s what makes it fun. You just never know when that moment’s going to be. The one thing you can’t do is overanalyze it. You can’t think about it too much. You prepare just like we have. You prepare all year long, so just do what you’re capable of doing. Don’t try to be somebody you aren’t. You’re that player. Be that player. Don’t try to be something that you haven’t been.”
Sound pretty close to what manager Buck Showalter has been preaching all season, but it might sink in a little more coming from a guy with the baseball streed cred of Jim Thome.