(BaseballStL) -- Before going into battle, it is essential to know who your enemy is.
The St. Louis Cardinals must constantly repeat that seemingly obvious task as they fight for a chance to play in the World Series.
Despite what the national and even some in the local media believe, the enemy is not the exuberant and somewhat childish Dodger celebrations. Celebrations did not score any runs, strike out any hitters or cause any fly balls to drop in the outfield.
No team ever lost because an opponent celebrated, unless that team allowed its resulting anger and frustration to dictate behavior. In sports, it is all about what happens next; what happens after the bad throw, the home run or the missed fly ball? Do you let one mistake become two by allowing your focus and energy to be diverted toward their antics and not on winning the baseball game?
The story that should be written is that the Dodgers are playing with fire if they are indeed trying to rattle the St. Louis Cardinals. Trying to show up a confident, secure opponent can backfire. Good people, strong people cannot be intimidated and are never afraid. Embarrassing the Cardinals, if indeed they even were, is poking the bear.
But it may be the media in search of a compelling story line that has exaggerated seemingly harmless joy into some grievous insult.
The Cardinals should know that the enemy is not the individual who celebrates nor is it the celebration itself. In fact, the enemy is not even in the Los Angeles Dodgers dugout.
The enemy in sports is always your self. It is that which you allow to distract you from your goal. It is the accepted presence of doubt.
Celebrations which divert focus are indeed powerful weapons but only if players allow them to be so. Realize they cannot beat you and their power evaporates.
More worrisome is the voice that only you hear which whispers the malignant reminder of past failure, or that tells you the task is too great, the obstacles too fearsome, the body too weak.
That voice competes with the one that assures you that you are good enough, that you can succeed, that desire and concentration can overcome those and all difficulties unless you give in to doubt and fear of disappointment.
The problem is that both voices are correct.
You have to choose which one to listen to.