Back when I was studying Anthropology, which was just before museums were discovered, the instructor asked that any of us in the class who had ever had surgery please raise a hand. Despite the fact that most of us were either in our twenties or younger, about a third of us raised a hand. He then gave us, or at least me, a shock. Back in the prehistoric time that we were studying, he said, that would mean that we were dead. Left behind for the good of the many, and perhaps a predator, our time would be over.
These times are anything but prehistoric, unless you live in a place like Albania or Nevada. Even though we may often seriously desire to leave some people behind, we don’t do that now, at least not officially. We just say that they can’t afford health care, most likely because they were stupid enough to be born poor. Nowadays, professional athletes and their employers can most definitely afford health care, the best that money can buy.By the looks of major league baseball rosters, it appears that they are getting a lot of it. Is it doing much good? Good question. Baseball Anarchy, in its never ending desire to get to the bottom of things, perused the rosters of the 1200 or so players in the National and American Leagues and came up with some interesting if disturbing numbers.
On May 3’2018, there were 172 injuries listed among the thirty teams. The injuries were serious enough that players were placed on either the ten or sixty day disabled list in 157 instances. There were many famous names on those lists, such as Troy Tulowitzki, Adam Wainwright, Yasiel Puig, and Madison Bumgarner. Some of the injuries were what we could call workplace accidents, such as Bumgarner getting a broken finger from a ball drilled back to the box that he instinctively stopped with his hand or Puig sliding into Joe Panik at second base resulting in thumb surgery for Panik. Somewhat startling, however, is the fact that the vast majority of the injuries appear to have resulted from simple wear and tear, Lots of sprained this and strained that. Now, one would expect those hurts in a weekend slow pitch softball league, which was where yours truly discovered what a hamstring was, as well as lower back strains.The big leagues, however, are full time for prime specimens.
Are these training issues? Should more time be spent on the yoga mat and less time be spent in the weight room? Are nachos, pizza, and beer still the favored diet of ballplayers even after they become millionaires? Do players really truly believe that Gatorade is superior to clean water? One thing that changed for the better in sports is that the investment in players and the corresponding requirement for bottom line efficiency means that more concern for the welfare of those investments, I mean players, exists, both on the part of management and on the part of the players themselves. Back in the day, pitchers disappeared because they had “sore arms”..Players retired at 31 or 32 because they didn’t want to go through it all anymore for maybe fifteen to twenty five thousand dollars a year.
Now that half of the rosters consist of pitchers, I suppose that it is not surprising that 110 of the 172 players injured that day were pitchers. That’s 64 per cent for those of you who need calculators. Maybe it should not be, but it is surprising as well that 27 of the 172 injured have had or are expecting to have what is called Tommy John surgery. My snide joke used to be that, if you want your young child to be assured a good income for life, teach him or her to pitch left handed. Now I will amend that to advise teaching them to perform surgery on the various body parts that are ravaged by throwing breaking balls. It’s become a real problem for teams like the Giants, whose starting rotation now consists of Who, What , When, Where, and Why.
The Texas Rangers lead the majors with 11 injured players, all on the disabled lists. That includes three fourths of their infield plus our old friend Tim Lincecum, who is on the 60 day list with blisters. The Washington Nationals are next with ten, including half of their infield. The Giants and Yankees are tied for third with nine each, and then come the Dodgers and Mets with eight each. So wealth can’t buy you health, but it can help out with your depth.
Now that gambling has become so mainstream, perhaps there will be a new way to do that too. Let’s set the over/under line on roster moves.