Compared to Target Field, Yankee Stadium seems especially sprawling and vast. But the when playing the Twins, New York hasn't seemed to need such a giant space. Instead, the Yankees are quite comfortable living inside the friendly confines of the Twins' heads. ¶ Fittingly, then, it is ex-Yankee Yogi Berra who often gets this quote attributed to him: "Ninety percent of the game is half mental." If we were to really break that down for math's sake, it would mean 45 percent of baseball (and sports in general) tilted to the mental side of things. But that's not really the spirit of the thing. The gist is in the profound impact that head games have on outcomes. For instance: THOSE DARN YANKEES

The Yankees' run against the Twins had been so bad that even manager Ron Gardenhire admitted the frustration this weekend.

Not to play amateur sports psychologist here, but when you go into a game trying to 1) beat a streak and 2) thinking the other team has an edge ... then the unfortunate outcome often plays right into the dominant team's hand. To quote "Bull Durham" and another great baseball philosopher, Crash Davis: "Don't hold the ball so hard, OK? It's an egg. Hold it like an egg." Sometimes pressing harder in the face of tension isn't the answer.

(And to finish the thought/movie exchange: Jason Kubel scrambled the egg.)


Now that his car accident, infidelity, awkward news conference, unspectacular return and injury are part of his recent past -- wow, it really looks bleak when you string those things together -- the biggest thing he will have to fight to win back is the undeniable mental hold he used to have on the rest of the tour players.

Because make no mistake: The reverence that players held for Tiger for so many years played right into his hands. They wilted so often because they were already defeated in their minds. Now? That might not be the case. The interesting question is whether Tiger can regain that calculating edge while also cleaning up his off-course act.


It is no coincidence and no accident that it often seems like the Lakers coach is taking a subtle (or even direct) shot at playoff opponents. He's been doing it for years; a few weeks back it was aimed at Kevin Durant, and now he's moved on to Steve Nash -- suggesting the deadly point guard for the Western Conference finalist Suns often gets away with traveling. Nash countered: "I've never heard anyone accuse me of carrying it. I mean, the best coach in the league, Gregg Popovich [of San Antonio], didn't have a problem with it last week."

Humorous. And exactly what Jackson wanted. People are talking about it and thinking about it. When the Lakers win the series, mind games won't be the primary reason. But star talent isn't the only reason Jackson is 10-2 all-time coaching in the NBA Finals.