Gary Sanchez may be struggling but the biggest culprit has to be the media explosion that surrounded the New York Yankees backstop last year.They say the media, especially in New York, is brutal. They can also be your best friend, which was the case last year for New York Yankees backstop Gary Sanchez.
This year, as Sanchez struggles more and more on both offense and defense, it’s difficult to find a culprit besides a sophomore slump.
But it isn’t just a slump. His defense has regressed, as he leads the major leagues in passed balls (12) and leads the American League in errors by a catcher (10). He is batting .267, a far cry from his dominant two months last season.
And why is that? Because he’s just not a good player? Or is it because it has gone all to his head and he’s gotten lazy?
Sanchez is swinging at pitches out of the zone, not moving his body behind the plate and relying on his arm instead of his legs to keep runners from scoring. And it is hard not to think it might be because of the way the media treated him last year.
They blew him up to be the greatest ballplayer that ever lived. They ranted and raved about Sanchez and his bat, his cannon of an arm and his affinity for the long ball. And with a young ballplayer, the likelihood of those words going to their head is incredibly high.
When the media talks about all these impressive attributes to your game, would you, as a player, feel a little bit proud? A little bit full of yourself? It makes you feel good. For Sanchez, that’s all they talked about.
Mistakes? Sanchez didn’t make them. Errors? Whatever, at least Sanchez has a big bat to make up for it. The media didn’t see mistakes … they only saw the home runs and praised him for being a complete player.
Some ballplayers would deflect those words and keep doing what they’re doing, like Aaron Judge. Other players might let it get to their head and focus on only improving on those things for the next season.
Which is exactly what Sanchez did. Instead of working on his defense in the offseason, he solely focused on improving his swing and lifting weights to improve on what the media fed on: his strength. He let the defense slip by the wayside and the cracks in his armor are showing.
Sanchez’ performance in 2016 turned him into the media Golden Child. He was all they could talk about and there was no escape from the Sanchez-mania that surfaced in the newspapers and on the television. The media took his two-month performance in the majors and quickly blew it out of proportion.
And that’s not Sanchez’ fault. He was doing what he does. Once the media made it a huge deal, Sanchez began to struggle. They turned him into a superstar after one month…much like what they’ve been doing with Judge.
But unlike Judge, Sanchez can’t seem to find himself again. Is it just the New York atmosphere or is that added on to the pressure the media has put on him?
They turned him into a show the moment he hit his first home run in the major leagues. Now, that show is over for Sanchez, as he’s been struggling mightily. And I think the media is partially to blame.
Scrutinizing every move, praising him for every small accomplishment, they gave Sanchez a sense of importance that made him think that everything he did was right. When the media is praising you for everything, what do you need to work on?
Well, clearly his defense. And his offense this year. It is not the fault of Sanchez that everything blew up in the media. But that just means he needed to do something about it.
Right now, Sanchez is a liability at catcher. He’s still young and still has time to turn it around, I have no doubt in that. But I think it’s time for him to realize that the media shouldn’t play a role in the way you play your game.
Just ask Aaron Judge.
Sanchez will return to form and he will make a difference for the Yankees. The problem is that with the media painting him as a hero, he’s got nothing to work on, right? Wrong.
The media gave Gary Sanchez early accolades for his performance and, like any normal person, he listened to them. As he starts to grow up, it’s time to forget about what the media says about him. He can be a superstar in his own right if he works at it.