YF, in his own inflammatory way, asks a legitimate question in the thread below, even as he posits an incomplete answer to his own question. The question of choking deserves another entirely different thread, and one that deals with the question of "what is" in far more intelligent terms than those that YF puts on the table. This is because there are numerous types of "chokes"; it’s not a black and white world. There are team-wide chokes (the Sox in 1978, the Sox in 1986, the Yankees in 2004). There are individual "chokes" (Dan Jansen, Thomas Bjorn, Jean Van de Velde). There are individual chokes within team efforts (Scott Norwood, Grady Little in 2004, Calvin Schiraldi or Bob Stanley in 1986, Mariano Rivera in the playoffs the last few years). So it’s an amorphous question, this one that YF asks our readers and fails to answer.
All of these chokes have something (or some things) in common. First, there is the timing of some of these efforts. In cases of both individual and team catastrophe, it’s usually at the point of virtual championship. For Van de Velde, it was on the 72nd hole of the British Open. For Scott Norwood it was the last play of the Super Bowl on a kick to win the trophy. For Calvin Schiraldi (or Bob Stanley, or Rich Gedman) it was the inability to close out a World Series just one strike away. For Mariano Rivera it was throwing a routine comebacker into center field in the 7th game of the World Series. Second, there is the sense of utter collapse, of failure in the moment after a long effort which brings brilliant success into view, within momentary reach. For Dan Jansen, it was falling on one of the turns in the Gold medal final in an Olympics after coming back to reach said finals (two times, at that). For the 1978 Red Sox it was the two month squandering of an enormous lead and then the death blow of Bucky Dent in front of a home crowd (on my 10th birthday, no less!) For the Yankees last year, it was a five day spiral into ignominious history after holding a never-before-overcome-in-the-history-of-the-game-3-0-lead, a journey that must have unfolded more painfully for Yankees fans each day as the trajectory of their failure became more apparent and more colossal. In all of these cases, either individual or by team, the failure was accomplished against all odds, defeat grasped literally from the jaws of victory.
So YF posits a good question: what is a choke? It’s one worthy of debate. But YF does a terrible job explaining what, in his own mind, makes a choke (perhaps all that schlag went to his head). My own criteria for a "choke" are admittedly my own, and by these measurements, this faltering Red Sox team doesn’t even come close to qualifying.