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Letter to the Editor: Fundamentals at the heart of baseball

I read your Editor’s Notes column on the Braves today (Page 1A, Oct. 21). I rarely am motivated to respond to articles.

This one demands a response as it has to do with America's game. 

Did the Braves choke? It depends on how you define “choke.” In my mind, choking is not playing up to your potential talent level in big game situations. 

I think there is a better phrase for what happened in Game 7 of the National League Championship series with the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

You correctly identified one base-running error in the fourth inning. In fact, there were THREE base-running errors committed in the fourth. 

While the term “choke” could be used, the more correct phrase should be “failure to learn and execute the fundamentals of the game.” I think that is a far more accurate statement.

The situation … less than two outs. Runners on second and third. Every Little Leaguer is taught to hold the base until the ball is through to the outfield. This didn't happen. Both Braves ran on contact. Why? Crickets … 

Once in a rundown, Dansby Swanson’s job is to stay alive in the rundown long enough for the trailing runner to make it to third base. Swanson didn’t do that. He was tagged out soon enough for Turner to turn and throw out Riley going to third, who was late in making his run to third. Bad, bad, bad base running all over that play. So many errors. 

Fundamentals are at the heart of baseball. They are forgotten in the world of the home run, the spot slow motion cameras on reactions from the dugout, the routines players have after a hit or a group celebration. People now think the bat flip and the emoting on the field is OK. That is where the focus is now. 

Yet, if you do not take care of the little things, like executing sound fundamental baseball, you will lose. That isn’t choking; it’s playing bad baseball. 

When was the last time you saw a player hit the other way? Bunt? Choke up and protect the zone with two strikes? Where is the shame in a strikeout? If the Braves do the little things and play fundamental baseball, they will win. 

If they go on as they are now, the word will be “choke,” which means “failure to learn and execute the fundamentals of the game.”

Alan Robison

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