[08/06/14 - 12:22 PM]
FOX Sports 1 Explores Enigmatic Pitching Role in "Closer Kingdom"
The one-hour special uses stunning cinematography, exterior interviews in natural settings and unique access to delve into the hierarchy, the routines and the mindset of baseball relievers with specific attention to the raw nature of the MLB closer.

[via press release from FOX Sports]


Major League Pitchers, Animal Experts Discuss Baseball Closers in MLB Productions Special

WATCH: Preview of CLOSER KINGDOM http://atmlb.com/1AUZgPb

In a one-hour special produced by Major League Baseball Productions, experts and scientists customarily tasked with studying the animal kingdom take an in-depth look at what kind of special breed of athlete it takes to successfully perform in the stress-filled role of the much, heralded, late-inning 'closer.' Set to premiere Saturday, Aug. 9 (11:30 AM ET), CLOSER KINGDOM uses stunning cinematography, exterior interviews in natural settings and unique access to delve into the hierarchy, the routines and the mindset of baseball relievers with specific attention to the raw nature of the MLB closer.

"You don't know when you are going to pitch, just like in a group of animals, you don't know when exactly you are going to begin a serious hunt," said Mark Bekoff, Ph.D, Professor Emeritus of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. "So, there are a lot of analogies. I mean, after all, we are all just social animals. We are hunters. We are closers. And this is what we do."

CLOSER KINGDOM explores the entire process of preparing for that moment late in the game, when the phone rings in the bullpen and the proverbial Pavlovian response takes over. This cinematic mission captures the transformation from bullpen seclusion to sudden bursts of energy with case studies focusing on Craig Kimbrel of the Atlanta Braves, Huston Street of the Los Angeles Angels and LaTroy Hawkins of the Colorado Rockies, along with commentary and first-person POV insight from Brian Wilson of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"Your adrenal glands take over and your thought process is fight or flight, so it's do or die," said Wilson, who has 172 Major League saves. "You just get into your animalistic mode."

Once in that mode, closers know only one way to survive.

"I think it's just something you have or you don't," said Kimbrel. "It's an attitude. I'm going to get these three outs no matter what."

"What we are seeing is the level of arousal (animals) have," said Stephen Ziwastowski, Ph.D., a certified animal behavior expert with the ASPCA. "This is what we often call the 'fight or flight' response. When an animal is aroused, it is either going to run away or its going to stay and fight ... if you can't successfully run away, or if you are not going to be successful fighting, that's what we call 'stress.' There is also something known as eustress or 'good stress,' where when you are aroused, you can rise to the occasion and actually win the fight that you are going to be in."

While watching Street prepare to pitch, Ziwastowski notices the tell-tale behavior: "You can see the body posture starting to change, standing a little taller, moving with quite a bit of confidence -- similar to an animal that is on the prowl."

Built for survival, this unique species has charted its own course through the baseball biosphere. FOX Sports 1 teams with MLB Productions, serving as your safari guides through CLOSER KINGDOM. Experts Bekoff and Ziwastowski are joined in the special by Craig Packer, Ph.D., Professor of Ecology, Evolution & Behavior at the University of Minnesota.

"This isn't your average sports documentary," said Michael Bloom, FOX Sports SVP of Original Programming. "We've gone to great length to prove the thesis that the closer holds a highly evolved position in the baseball kingdom, and their incredible talent and focus are a direct result of the most primal hunter instincts that predator animals rely on."


About FOX Sports 1

FOX Sports 1 is America's new national multi-sport channel that launched on August 17 in approximately 90 million homes and boasts nearly 5,000 hours of live event, news and original programming annually. The channel has several pillar sports: college basketball and football, MLB (in 2014), NASCAR, NFL (ancillary programs), international soccer, UFC and Golden Boy boxing, and adds USGA events, including the U.S. Open, and FIFA Women's World Cup in 2015. FOX SPORTS LIVE is FOX Sports 1's flagship 24/7 news, opinion and highlights program, providing around the clock coverage through regularly scheduled programs, hourly updates and an information rich ticker. Original programs include: AMERICA'S PREGAME; MLB WHIPAROUND; NASCAR RACE HUB; and the groundbreaking BEING: documentary franchise. FOX Sports GO, a new authenticated mobile sports experience for iPhone, iPad, Android devices and the web, serves as the channel's digital extension. The app offers more than 1,100 live games and events from cross FOX Sports, FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports 2 and FOX Sports' 22 regional sports networks, as well as scores, highlights, news, stats and analysis. For more information visit www.FOXSports.com/FOXSports1.

About Major League Baseball Productions

Major League Baseball Productions is the Emmy(R) award-winning television and video production division of Major League Baseball and the official video archivists of the game. With unparalleled access to the Clubs and their players, Major League Baseball Productions produces original programming for growing audiences worldwide through its network specials, exclusive home videos, commercials and other specialty programming. For more information on Major League Baseball Productions, log on to www.MLBProductions.com.

  [august 2014]  

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