Steve Blass, Steve Sax, Rick Ankiel, And Doke

  • Baseball is relatively famous for players developing the yips. If you’re not familiar someone who develops the yips suddenly loses the ability to do that what he had done for his whole life in that particular sport.

    Bill Blass, a Pirates hero in the 1972 world series, retires from baseball a year later because he suddenly couldn’t throw the ball over the plate, like at all.

    Steve Sax, a fine 2nd baseman, suddenly freezes up when he tries to throw the ball to 1st base that he’s fielded. The throws start spraying all over, fans behind the 1st base dugout are terrified.

    Rick Ankiel is the most famous in recent memory. A great Cardinals pitcher and one day he’s all over the place. Never pitches effectively again in a real game. In practice, he’s hitting his spots. Games, nada. To his credit he goes back to the minors and learns to play outfield and makes it back with some success.

    Sox catcher can’t throw the ball back to the pitcher. He has to get down on both knees and lob the ball back. Try stealing on him he’ll fire it to 2nd and you’d never guess he can’t throw it to the pitcher.

    Doke might have the yips. It’s so in his head now that he can’t execute the mechanics he’s undoubtedly being drilled on in practice. And by in the head, I mean, imagine being a 20 year old living and playing 6000 miles from home and having A. The home crowd groaning with every miss, or B. The visiting crowd roaring at you and shamefully last night chanting USA.

    And this might be the worst result of last night. Dokes misses are now public knowledge. OKState and KState and ISU and Baylor fans all know about it. We still have to go to those places. Their fans are going to be primed to pounce on the young man. It’s going to shadow him the rest of the year unless his yips are cured.

  • @wissox I believe Ankiel Not only couldn’t throw a strike but repeatedly threw it wildly to the backstop. He threw really well from the outfield though and had a lot of power. A good guy you really wanted to succeed.

  • Not sure if its the “yips,” but when you’re a bad shooter with a confidence issue and you tack on the external pressures you outlined above, it can definitely take it’s toll on a young mind. I’d be interested to know what kind of practice foul shooter he is. Without knowing (and basing this solely on his technique and the sheer velocity he wings his FTs towards the rim/backboard), I’d be willing to bet his in-game and practice shooting percentages are basically the same.

    However, last night definitely couldn’t have helped with his confidence which may, indeed, create more issues between his ears than before. I can’t recall a time this season where he actually looked comfortable at the line and I definitely never count on him making those shots. It the same as a turnover, unfortunately.

    Honestly, I’d been waiting for this all season and I’m surprised we hadn’t seen it sooner. If Scott Drew and Bruce Weber were a little better at what they do, perhaps this strategy could’ve resulted in a different outcomes of those games. It definitely won’t be the last time we see this and, if we continue to grind out single possession games, we’re going to need to address this one way or another. Doke makes such a difference when he’s out on the floor but we’re obviously going to need to get creative with how he’s used in the final minutes.

  • I wouldn’t classify Doke as having the yips. With the yips, you suddenly can’t do something simple that you’ve been able to do in the past. If Doke had the yips, for example, he would be missing layups and dunks. He was never a good FT shooter. Nerves and confidence may be keeping him from improving, but its not the yips because he was never good at it.

    I have seen an option QB suddenly get the yips and become unable to pitch the ball with a particular hand. He ended up only being able to run the option one way - he would always keep if he went the other way because he was afraid to pitch it.

    Chuck Knoblauch got the yips and couldn’t throw to first. There have been basketball players that got the yips and couldn’t make FTs, but they were average to good FT shooters prior to that. Jon Lester may have gotten the yips for a while when he refused to throw the ball to first with a runner on.

    Yips is a mental/muscle thing. The mind locks up the muscle memory, to the point that executing a basic action becomes labored - like having to remind yourself how to turn a doorknob because you once burned your hand on a hot knob or something. You are physically able to do the task, but your brain won’t let your hand grasp and turn the knob because of the fear/nervousness.

    Doke is just a bad FT shooter that is struggling with his confidence. His motion and release are all over the place. His goal, rather than becoming a good shooter, should simply be improving to around 55% or so. High enough that he isn’t a total drag, but not so high that such improvement may seem impossible to him.

  • Doke came to college as a bad FT shooter. He’s two years into College with the same issue.

    They have taught him footwork, post moves, improved his conditioning immensely but haven’t improved his shooting touch besides the running hook he’s got. Some just don’t have it, some will never have it. Doke may be one of those that never gets it. Being as young as he is you hope that’s not the case

  • What do ya’ll think that the added pressure he must be feeling now means he has a sort of the yips that the pressure is bringing on?

  • I don’t know about the yips, but you can see that the prospect of having to shoot free throws takes any joy away from Dok. And ones even ruin his mood- Dok can’t celebrate the dunk, he has to dread the free throw. I hope Dok can improve on the line, I think it’ll set his mind free and we’ll see a much improved overall game from him.

  • @dylans I agree with the FT emotions being dismal. He also needs to lose the stare after the dunks. Stares and taunts never have won a game. Do your jam, wink at them and race to other end for a block or rebound.