This Article is Insufferable, Even by David Murphy Standards

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Writing today about the psyche of an athlete, thirty-something quasi-beat writer for a dying newspaper David Murphy, who just refuses to spell out single-digit numbers, managed to reach new levels of insufferable with this prose about athletes lying to themselves about their ailments:

Last year, a segment of fans and talking heads espoused a disconcerting school of thought during Utley's eventual 3-month absence from the active roster. Utley, the suggestion went, was not honest with himself or the organization about his knees, and because of that, he hindered the Phillies' ability to replace him. My response to anybody who asked my opinion on the matter was that it was nonsense, and my explanation went something like this:

The ability to lie to oneself, and to believe those lies, is a fundamental requirement for an elite-level athlete. The measure of an athlete's psychology is his ability to convince himself that the impossible can be attained. That psychology extends to his physical health, which, at most points during a season, is somewhere less than 100 percent. An athlete's job is to convince himself that he is not in pain, and, failing that, that the pain is not strong enough to hinder his performance, and, failing that, that the pain that is hindering his performance is within his control, that it can be overcome with the proper adjustments, be they mental or mechanical.

A major league pitcher must convince himself that he is capable of performing a task that the human body was not meant to do. This season, Roy Halladay's mission is to convince himself of the irrelevance of the fact that his body turns 36 years old on May 14. Perhaps he will find inspiration in Chris Carpenter, his friend and former teammate who as a 36-year-old in 2011 logged 237 1/3 innings before pitching the Cardinals to a World Series title.


Or, Roy Halladay should acknowledge the fact that he’ll turn 36 this year and, instead of ignoring it, make adjustments to his routine and his approach, the way so many other successful, aging pitchers have done before him. 

Or, you know, just pretend that he’s 22, a method of self-trickery that Murphy himself dismissed as, at best, unreliable (at worst, foolish) just a few paragrahs before claiming that it should be Halladay's mission.


4 Responses

  1. Hey Kyle, if you ever worked for a REAL new agency you would know that every newspaper has a style for its writers to follow. Murphy isn’t refusing to spell out single-digit numbers, he’s probably following the style laid out by his editors. To your defense, AP Style dictates that single-digit numbers are to be written out and anything larger than 10 be in numerical form. I guess they don’t follow that at their newspaper.

  2. Well, if that’s their policy (which I highly doubt), his counterpart, Matt Gelb, doesn’t follow it:
    “Kendrick, though, made tremendous strides in the final six weeks of 2012. He ditched a cutter that was used too often as a crutch and instead threw his change-up more than ever. It was a pitch, used 25 percent of the time, that proved valuable.”

  3. It’s APA style, and Kyle’s right. Any use of actual single digit numbers throws off my reading fluency because I know it’s not grammatically correct!
    To my point, as a psychologist, I have no clue what he’s referring to. Not to say, why are we to take his opinion on a professional athlete’s “psychology” seriously? Was he a professional athlete? I’m guessing no.
    As a collegiate athlete in XC and track, I can tell you the pieces to his “explanation” have never even crossed my mind. And, let me tell you, you do ALOT of thinking on 16+ (not sixteen) mile runs.

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