Hypnotist helps Giants manager kick nasty habit

507652.jpg

Hypnotist helps Giants manager kick nasty habit

From Comcast SportsNet Monday, August 8, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Ask Bruce Bochy if he has a dip and San Francisco's skipper offers up a standard response: "I don't do that anymore." Bullpen catcher Bill Hayes answers the same way. Equipment manager Mike Murphy, too. They've reached this point because of hypnotherapist Dr. AlVera Paxson, who is developing quite the reputation for helping the reigning World Series champion Giants kick some nasty, decades-old habits. Bochy hasn't touched chewing tobacco since April 14, the night before seeing Paxson during his team's first road trip to Arizona. Hayes has gone without since Jan. 26. It's two years down for Murphy. No carrying around those little tobacco cans for these three any longer. Bochy had his doubts when Hayes told him in spring training this year that he had stopped dipping at last following one thorough session with Paxson, a medical hypnotherapist. Hayes succeeded after Paxson already had aided Murphy in stopping. She also worked with Murphy's wife, Carole, to help her quit smoking. "I'm a believer," said Murphy, who joined the Giants as a bat boy when the franchise moved West in 1958. "It's been the best 300 I ever spent," Hayes said. "It's weird to see how it works." Bochy agrees. He already would have spent well more than 300 on dip by this point in the season, he said. Still, Bochy -- a skeptic on these sorts of things -- had to see for himself if he could finally kick his nearly 40-year pattern of dipping before and after games and several times during the course of nine innings. He did it in the first, fifth and eighth innings. That had been his routine for years, a go-to stress reliever to deal with the pressures of a 162-game season. When he left Paxson's office, minus his own 300 investment, Bochy headed straight to Chase Field for a game against the Diamondbacks. He arrived in the clubhouse and didn't want a dip. The game started and there were no cravings. He has handled the occasional urges ever since. "It was really strange," Bochy said. "There are so many triggers that you have that make you want to put a dip in. The following day, I did have an urge, not a real strong one. I said, 'OK, I've had my day off, now it's time to put one in.'" But he didn't do it. "The next game I did have an urge. The next two to three days I still had an urge, but it just wasn't as strong as other times I've tried to quit," he said. "When I got past the fourth or fifth day, I was over it. I didn't crave it. I didn't want it. I was fine." Bochy spent 3 hours in a relaxed, near-sleep state under Paxson's guidance. She talks constantly as she walks around the room. While Hayes had his eyes closed, per Paxson's instructions, he recalled that the strongest direction about quitting came as she spoke instructions and Hayes heard sounds resembling a stack of magazines emphatically being thrown to the ground, one by one. Both Bochy and Hayes were asked to sit all the way back in a recliner. They gave Paxson signals they could hear her by moving a foot or finger. Each brought along a can of chew and Paxson proceeded to educate them about all the ingredients they were putting in their bodies -- make that lower lips. "It's pretty disgusting in a year's time how much nicotine you put in your body," Bochy said. Education is Paxson's first order of business when a patient arrives. She explains the conscious and subconscious minds. "People were not born chewing tobacco," Paxson said in a telephone interview from Arizona. "Your mind knows how to not do something more than you know how to do something." Not that it's quite that simple. Last year, Bochy tried Nicorette gum and an array of different non-tobacco, herbal dips. He made it about a month, then hit hard times and fell back into his old dipping ways. The 56-year-old Bochy tried his first dip at 18. He was playing in a summer league in Virginia, and his roommate from North Carolina chewed every day. Even he didn't know if he could give it up. "There's an unknown factor when you see a hypnotist," Bochy said. "You haven't been there, so I didn't know what to expect. It shocked me." Bochy admits the stress of his team's recent struggles -- the reigning World Series champions had lost eight of 10 heading into Monday night's home game with Pittsburgh -- has had him considering "changing up the look and putting one in." But Paxson doesn't think Bochy will break down and actually do it. The 70-year-old Paxson has been doing this for 30 years. "It's an awesome thing," she said. "Once you know how to work with your mind and body, it's easy. Once you know how to do that, you can do almost anything." Not that the rest of the Giants are necessarily convinced. They razz Hayes because he has been seen smoking the occasional cigarette or cigar, or using the imitation snuff since seeing Paxson. "Follow my finger. Do not smoke," joked bench coach Ron Wotus, waving his pointer finger in a tick-tock motion. "You're cured. Next! ... A hypnotist, come on. Good for them. The mind is a powerful thing." Reliever Jeremy Affeldt isn't yet a believer, either. "That's what they all say (that it works). I don't buy it," Affeldt said. "Boch is holding up pretty good, though I don't see him behind closed doors if he's putting something in his lip. I don't plan on seeing (a hypnotist). I'd like to keep control of my own thoughts." Yet Kim Bochy is beginning to let herself believe that her husband might be done dipping for good. He has gone longer stretches before in an effort to quit, but not midseason like this. "I told Bruce: 'This is a true test. If you can actually do this during the baseball season and stop, that's phenomenal,'" Kim Bochy said. "He has quit so many times before but always at the end of the season or going into spring training. And, the whole game thing (arrives) and he'd go right back into it. I was amazed he was going to try it in the middle of the season. It's worked. It's a good thing."

Cassidy: 'Trying to set a standard' of being one of the NHL's better teams

Cassidy: 'Trying to set a standard' of being one of the NHL's better teams

BOSTON – The Bruins have won seven of eight games under interim coach Bruce Cassidy and are fortifying their position as the third playoff team in the Atlantic Division with each passing victory.

The 4-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes at TD Garden on Tuesday night probably shouldn’t be all impressive based on the Yotes standing as the second-worst team in the NHL, but it was a classic trap game coming off a long West Coast road trip. Instead of falling for the trap the Bruins exploded for three goals in the second period, energized by a shorthanded Riley Nash strike, and continue to extend the winning stretch they need in order to punch their playoff ticket.

The postseason clincher is still a long way away from reality, but Cassidy said the B’s are starting to achieve the elevated level of play they’re aiming for while finally getting the full potential out of their team.

“I just want the guys to make sure that they play confident, solid hockey and believe in themselves. And play to a [higher] standard,” said Cassidy. “We’re trying to set a standard where we’re one of the better teams in the National Hockey League. They’ve been there before, the leadership group here. That’s where we’re striving to get through in the end.”

They haven’t exactly shied away from the competition either, twice beating the first-place San Jose Sharks and shutting out the first place Montreal Canadiens in the final straw that saw Michel Therrien axed in favor of Claude Julien.

The B’s have now opened up a three-point cushion over the Maple Leafs for their playoff spot and they’ve averaged 4.13 goals per game (33 goals in eight games) while allowing just 2.13 goals per game (17 goals in eight games) in the eight games going from Julien to Cassidy. 

The challenge now is to maintain that level of play over the final 19 games of the regular season to drive home their playoff bid and finish strong at a point where in each of the past two seasons they’ve utterly imploded.


 

Curran: Hard to believe Garoppolo's completely untouchable

Curran: Hard to believe Garoppolo's completely untouchable

Months ago, I was told by someone who’d know that it wasn’t a done deal the Patriots would trade Jimmy Garoppolo.

This was after Garoppolo got hurt and Tom Brady was in the midst of his didn’t-miss-a-beat return. At the time, it made all the sense in the world for the team to start listening to overtures. 

And it still does. 

RELATED

Despite having it reiterated to me recently that people shouldn’t “expect” Garoppolo to be dealt (and plenty of national media reporting the same thing), I’ve maintained that -- while it may not be likely -- that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. 

A recitation of the reasons why:

-- First, Garoppolo is a backup behind the best quarterback in NFL history who also happens to be one of its most durable. Regardless if he’s pushing 40, even compared to quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton, Brady is a less prone to injury. So the likelihood the team will need to summon Garoppolo to sub for Brady either because of performance or injury is tiny. 

-- Second, value. What good does it have to be in possession of a good player if he never plays? Brady is signed through 2019. The Patriots can control Garoppolo through 2018 if they franchise him, but they’ll have to spend close to $25 million on a one-year deal to do that. And what’s the plan there, spend $25 million to have him watch Brady play at a level Garoppolo still probably won’t be able to approach? When it comes to draft picks, Bill Belichick is like an old guy with a metal detector at the beach. He’ll pocket anything he can find. But he’s not going to flip Garoppolo into possible first-round currency and -- after almost two decades of saving for the future -- just sit on a tradeable asset that may never play?

-- Third, Jacoby Brissett’s ability to play is a helluva lot better demonstrated than Matt Cassel’s, Ryan Mallett’s, Brian Hoyer's and Matt Guttierez's. All those players were the lone backups to Brady at different junctures. The belief the Patriots don’t trust Brissett to back up Brady and need more security is inconsistent with what they’ve done in the past. Further, they seemingly groomed Brissett to be the backup in 2016 in little ways -- bringing him back from IR, taking him on the road when he was on IR. 

Finally, does this actually mean that Garoppolo is somehow the player without a price? Completely untouchable in a way Richard Seymour, Logan Mankins, Jamie Collins and whoever else we want to dredge up as a trade example were? 

So where’s this leave us? 

One of three possibilities. 1) The Patriots do indeed have an asking price and are driving up the market. 2) The Patriots are going to franchise and trade Garoppolo next year. 3) Or they are going to trade Brady before the 2018 season and give the job to Garoppolo. 

If the ultimate plan has even crystallized, it’s not going to be shared. Not now. So instead we need to look for bread crumbs to lead us to the team’s mindset. 

Perhaps the best insight Belichick gave into his approach was in November of 2009 in an interview with Jason Cole. The interview came a couple of months after the Seymour deal. in which the Patriots grabbed a 2011 first-rounder for the former All-Pro. 

“We gave up a significant player and we gained a significant asset,” Belichick told Cole. “There’s a balance of this year and years in the future. Do we consider that? Yes, but in the end you look at the level of compensation and you do it. Had it been for another level of compensation, would we do it? Maybe not. I don’t know. There’s a point where you say yes and a point where you say no and there’s a real fine line in the middle where it really depends on how bad you want to make the trade. It’s like anything else, if you really want to do it, you might take less. If you don’t, it probably would take more.” 

The link is dead so here I lean on Mike Florio of PFT, who aggregated the Cole interview from Yahoo!:

Belichick also said that “probably everybody is available at the right price,” but when Cole pressed him about whether he’d really trade Tom Brady, Belichick acknowledged that he’s building a team around a certain core group of players -- and he wouldn’t trade those guys. As an example of a player he wouldn’t trade, Belichick named linebacker Jerod Mayo, last year’s first-round draft pick.

“Now, is Jerod Mayo available? No, not really,” Belichick said. “But there are certain players who are young that have a certain number of years left on their contract that you want on your team, so you’re really not going to trade them. Those guys are realistically not available, no. But is everybody else available for a certain price on every team? I would say, for the most part, they probably are. Who’s willing to give that? What you want and what someone else is willing to give, that’s usually very different. In this case, it worked.”

Bearing that in mind, and understanding the amount of desperation around the league to find the right quarterback, I still believe there’s a price for Garoppolo. But unless someone pays it, we’ll never know what it is.