Part of the secret to Eric Thames' success could be meditation
The following is a transcript of a segment from this week's episode of the Cut4Cast podcast. To hear more of the Cut4 staff's weekly banterings about which position player is the best at pitching or how baseball would work in outer space, subscribe to the Cut4Cast by clicking here.
Even though we're only four weeks into the season, Eric Thames is already a legend. After playing in Korea for three years, he's finally made his return to MLB, and we're guessing you've heard about it:
This week, Brewers beat reporter Adam McCalvy joined Gemma Kaneko to talk about the secrets to Thames' success.
Gemma Kaneko: There are so many interesting things about [Thames]. Of course, the home run total -- everyone is talking about it. He comes back from Korea and is just on a tear, but he just seems to be a really interesting guy, too. He loves Milwaukee, he loves beer -- what else should we know about him?
Adam McCalvy: Well, look, when you're in my job you don't care really if they win or lose. You want good stories. And sometimes that doesn't necessarily mean you have to have a really good team to have good stories. The Brewers are a building team, they're probably not going to win this division. They're not expected to go to the postseason. But Eric Thames is just -- I mean I could write about him every day. I feel like I'm the Eric Thames beat writer.
It reminds me of one of my first postseason assignments, when
He's a fascinating guy. He picked up meditation when he was in Korea. He's an avid reader, and he gave me some titles. I still have to write this story of some books that he says helped him through that really tough transition where he goes to a place where he doesn't know their protocol, he doesn't know their language and he has to basically revive his career in a foreign land.
He is an extremely thoughtful player. He still speaks daily to his boyhood hitting coach, a guy who helped him since he was 12 years old. He likes beer which makes him a fan favorite in Milwaukee. Every time you talk to him after a game, there's some sort of a new story, something you didn't know.
And it was interesting, [Monday night], after he hit two homers against the Reds -- who, by the way, are tired of Mr. Thames and are probably not as excited about this story as the rest of us are. You know, he said one of the things in his first stint in the big leagues as a prospect and as a young big leaguer, he was so stressed about hitting home runs that he drank too much, he was just kind of an unhealthy person because of the stress. One of the things that has helped him get to where he is today is kind of learning to let that go. Go to the plate and just react, that's kind of what he's doing now, and it has led to some pretty amazing early season success.
Gemma: Do you think this is going to be sustained throughout the season? What is your prediction for his future with the Brewers?
Adam: Well, no, this is not sustainable. And I've actually had some Brewers people sort of on the side -- now obviously they're not going to say this on the record -- but I think they're a little worried people think this is what he's going to be for the whole season. And when he goes through his first quiet period, which look, the history of the game tells us is coming, that people are going to panic and think he's all of a sudden lost it. He's going to go through bad periods where he's unproductive. That's how this game works.
He is not going to hit 77 home runs or 80 home runs or whatever pace he's on right now. I'd be willing to make that bet for you right now. The people here are going to have to kind of calm down a little bit when he does go through that quiet period. But he has been really cool talking about this current stretch of just kind of enjoying it, not overthinking it. I think he himself realizes this is a hot streak that is going to at some point come to an end and he's trying to prolong it, like good hitters do, for as long as humanly possible.
To hear more about Thames and the Brewers (including a behind-the-scenes look at how the sausage (race) is made, listen to the full interview here.