Hypnotist helps Giants manager kick nasty habit

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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."

Giants Notes: Blach shows resiliency; Another option in center?

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Giants Notes: Blach shows resiliency; Another option in center?

CHICAGO — John Lackey's night started with a leadoff homer. Ty Blach's night started with a 13-pitch battle. Neither one is a positive for a pitcher, but Blach didn't view it that way. He actually appreciated Ben Zobrist stretching him out.

"It's good to have a battle like that and get you locked in," Blach said. "It gets you focused and you'll be like, I can execute and get guys out. It's good. It's a good battle."

There, in a nutshell, is so much of what Bruce Bochy loves about his young left-hander. The Giants have found Blach's arm and resolve to be remarkably resilient. He wasn't bothered when they moved him to the bullpen and he didn't get too high when they moved him back to the rotation. He is the same after seven shutout innings or three poor ones. Bochy smiled when asked about the Zobrist at-bat, which ended in a strikeout looking. 

"How 'bout that?" the manager said. "He won that at-bat. It seems like the advantage goes to the hitter, seeing all those pitches. He kept his focus and got a called strikeout and here he is pitching in the eighth inning."

After needing 13 pitches for one out, Blach got the next 23 on 81 pitches. Bochy thought Blach tired a bit in the eighth, but the deep effort allowed Bochy to mix and match in the bullpen, and ultimately he found the right mix. Hunter Strickland and Mark Melancon closed it out and got Blach his second win.

--- From last night, Joe Panik's huge night helped give Blach an early lead. With the help of Ron Wotus and his shift charts, he also put on a show defensively.

--- We're trying something new right after the final pitch: Here are five quick takeaways from the 6-4 win.

--- The options game sent Kelby Tomlinson back to Triple-A on Wednesday when the Giants activated Melancon, but his latest stint in Sacramento comes with a twist. Tomlinson started his third consecutive game in center field on Monday. The Giants are getting a bit more serious about their longtime plan to make Tomlinson a super-utility player. 

“Tommy is a valuable guy in the majors and if we can give him some experience in the outfield, it gives you more flexibility and versatility,” manager Bruce Bochy said. 

This is not Tomlinson’s first foray into the outfield. He did work there in the offseason after the 2015 season and he has played 25 big league innings in left field the last two seasons. This is Tomlinson’s first real experience with center field, and while in the past he has said that the transition isn’t as easy as some might think, Bochy is confident Tomlinson can figure it out. He certainly has the speed to be a semi-regular in the outfield, and the Giants aren’t exactly brimming with quality center field options behind Denard Span, who is dealing with his second injury of the season. 

“It’s a little different now,” Bochy said when asked about Tomlinson’s past experiences in the outfield. “He’s in Sacramento doing it, and knowing there’s a possibility we could need help in the outfield.”

If the switch doesn’t come in handy this season, it could in 2018. Bochy compared Tomlinson’s infield-outfield ability to Eduardo Nuñez, who has found regular playing time in left but is a free agent after the year. 

--- Hunter Pence did some light running in the outfield before Monday’s game. Bochy said Pence is still about a week away from being an option.

--- Bochy has said it a few times now when asked about the standings, so it’s officially a new motto for a team that got off to a brutal start: “We’ve put ourselves in a great situation for a great story.”

--- They're starting to get a little grumpy around here with their team hovering around .500. Perhaps the Cubs thought they could fool a few on the way out of Wrigley.

This is the NBA Finals that will define the Warriors forever

This is the NBA Finals that will define the Warriors forever

There are no more ways to extol the virtues of the Golden State Warriors without redundancy. They have owned three consecutive regular seasons and three consecutive Western Conference playoffs, and just finished savaging the last one faster than any team since the 2001 Los Angeles Lakers, who didn’t have to play as many games as these Warriors did.

But now the season begins, and in the pass-fail world of the NBA Finals, this is the one that will define the Warriors for the ages.

After mugging the San Antonio Spurs, 129-115, to close out the West final in the minimum number of sanctioned events, the Warriors now wait for the resolution of Cleveland-Boston to begin the final assault on their destiny.

They did so without giving in to their occasional predilection for easing up on the throttle. They took an early lead, widened it slowly and carefully and made damned sure the Spurs never felt like they could do as the Celtics had done the night before in Cleveland. The Warriors were coldly efficient (well, okay, those 17 turnovers were bothersome but not ultimately an issue) at both ends of the floor and all points inbetween, and the result and its margin were both fair representations of the difference between the two teams.

In dispatching the Spurs, they became the first team ever to put 120 points on a Gregg Popovich-coached team three consecutive times; indeed the only time Popovich ever had one of his teams allow 120 in back-to-back games was when the 2005 team that eventually won the NBA title beat the Los Angeles Clippers and Warriors, both in overtime.

And while this series will be remembered as the one in which the Spurs had the least amount of weaponry, it will also be the one in which the Warriors will be remembered for wasting only one of the eight halves they played. It is difficult, in other words, to make the case that San Antonio would have won the series even with Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker. We do know it would still be going on, but the outcome seems only slightly more in doubt in such a case.

But as this affects the Warriors, this next series will dictate all of it. Win, and they can claim a mini-dynasty. Lose, and they will damned in the court of public opinion in ways that make last year’s 3-1 memes seem downright charitable.

It is the price they pay for being very good already and then adding Kevin Durant without giving up anything of real substance. It’s the price they pay for wanting it all and then doubling down for more.

People and teams who did that are not treated kindly unless they win everything that can be won, and the Warriors are now that team – like the Yankees of lore and Patriots of today, they are the standard of both excellence and excess, and marrying the two without danger is not possible, as they learned a year ago.

But that was then, Draymond Green’s wayward hand and five minutes of 0-for-everything shooting is just history. They can adapt and avenge if not eradicate the hard lesson of 2016 and be thought of as the team they all believe themselves to be.

All they have to do is take the Celtics or Cavaliers and ender them inert. They don’t have to do it in four games; chasing numbers is a fool’s errand as they discovered last year chasing the now-meaningless 73.

They just have to do it four times, and if they play as they have, winning 12 consecutive games by an average margin of 16 points and change  against three other quality teams, they will succeed at the hardest level basketball can create. And whatever people may say of them good or ill, they will have achieved what was demanded of them by both supporter and detractor alike.

And that, to paraphrase Kevin Durant, is what they came to do. Win the thing, and not worry about the numbers -- especially not the style points.