With 8 games remaining the Boston Red Sox are on the verge of the biggest collapse in baseball history. As we speak the Red Sox are only two games in front of the Tampa Bay Rays for a wild card spot. After strolling through most of the summer with a comfortable lead the Red Sox find themselves in a must win situation. This is where the psychology of sports kicks in.
Players will respond to this scenario in one of two ways. They will either rise to the occasion and become heroes or wilt under the pressure of expectation. In the heat of the moment your mind can start to play tricks on you. Every at bat, every pitch, and every defensive play in the field can seem like life or death while the burden of those larger than life contracts can weigh on a player like an anvil.
The owners and fans don't want to hear excuses. They pay huge amounts of money in salaries and give their undying loyalty and support to the organization. The least these players can do to hold up their end of the bargain is get to the post season right? It would be difficult if not impossible to focus entirely on the task at hand without those factors becoming a distraction. This time of year separates the mentally strong from the emotionally weak.
The Red Sox have to put up or shut up. With all eyes on the it's imperative that they perform at a high level. Chances are the Rays wont continue to play lights out baseball and the Red Sox will slide by, but if they stumble and become headcases Tampa Bay will take advantage. It should be an interesting week in MLB.