Baseball team using rituals to build camaraderie, successful results
The count is two balls and two strikes with two outs, when something catches the eye of CMU’s opposing pitcher.
He sees 30 players, wielding a bow and arrow directly at him.
This is one of the odd rituals the Central Michigan baseball team does during the course of a game.
The man behind antics like these is sophomore infielder Morgan Oliver.
“It relaxes the team and gets everyone engaged in the game,” Oliver said. “If we’re down and really need some support, somebody will say something and the whole team will do it.”
The most elaborate is the “2-2-2 bow and arrow.”
This involves the team waving their right hands behind their head. As the pitcher winds up, the team pulls back and fires as the pitcher throws to home.
Oliver brought the now-customary ritual to CMU from his summer league.
"When my summer team did it, it brought the team together,” Oliver said. “I did it the first weekend (at CMU) and by the second weekend it caught on and everybody started doing it.”
There are three moments during a game where the Chippewas engage in these rituals.
When there are three balls and two strikes with one out, the team will wave their hands and shoot their arm straight up when the ball is delivered.
The next comes with three balls and two strikes and two outs, a full count.
It’s at this moment when the players in the dugout will all mime a sumo dead-lift.
“It started out doing someone’s favorite exercise, but the sumo dead-lift kind of stuck,” Oliver said.
Rituals like these are a regular occurrence in the sport.
Baseball is a largely seen as a mental game and players will get in a routine if things are going well on the field.
From breakfast to the locker room and the locker room to the field, players will do the same thing day-in-and-day-out if it means they will continue to produce in a victory.
Oliver admits he, like many baseball players are, is very superstitious.
"It’s the same routine before a game,” Oliver said. “If I’m doing something bad and have an off day I’ll change something up.”
Oliver came off the bench in Wednesday’s 16-10 win at Oakland, but was 0-for-2 at the plate.
So if adding coffee to his morning routine today before the 3:05 game at home against Toledo might help him get a couple hits and a RBI, he said he would do it.
“I don’t drink coffee,” Oliver said. “But, I’ll have a cup of coffee.”