Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Injury Bug

I’m not sure which is more frustrating for me as a Red Sox fan: that every day there seems to be a new injury to a key member of the team, or the morons complaining about the speed with which the players recover from the injury. At the moment, I’m leaning towards the latter.

Players get hurt. It’s annoying. It happens to every team. But why, oh why, do fans seem to think players can mentally change the healing process? Why do they think you can will a broken bone or pulled muscle away? Why do they think playing with pain is so noble, when taking time to heal a character flaw?

Jacoby Ellsbury broke his ribs. I’ve never broken a rib, but I’m guessing it hurts a lot. I’ve broken a collarbone, which is a similar thing. They can’t cast a collarbone, so I was simply trying to keep it still. Every time I moved just wrong, it sent a jolting pain up and down my body. Fun, it wasn’t. And, I wasn’t even trying to swing a bat. Who am I to say how long it takes before a player can stop that jabbing pain? I’ve heard Lou Moron-i spout over and over on EEI that Ellsbury needs to learn how much pain he should be playing with. Huh? I’m guessing that Ellsbury knows how much pain he is in. He knows when he can play. He’ll come back when he can play the game the way he needs to play it.

Ellsbury is currently on a rehab assignment, working his way back. More EEIdiots have actually suggested he should be playing for the Sox, instead of rehabbing in the minors. They seem to ignore the fact that coming back form a rib injury, it might not be the best idea to get out there and start playing every game right away. He should probably take it easy for a bit. Take a game off here and there. So, he could play for the big club, and sit out once every few games. The Sox tried that with a player once. Nomar played with the big club. He just took a “scheduled” day off every once in a while. The media ran him out of town for it. Didn’t David Wells once want to skip a rehab assignment? He was slammed by the media for being more concerned about reaching personal incentives than helping the team. So, Ellsbury goes on a rehab, gets slammed. Nomar and Wells don’t, and get slammed. Which is it?

The other option open for Ellsbury? To have come back a while ago, and play through severe pain. Yeah, he could have done that. People point to the fact that Mike Cameron did. (Cameron is now back on the DL.) Of course, when Cameron was in there playing with pain, he couldn’t get to flyballs. He couldn’t generate the same bat speed. He was a fraction of himself. That was helpful? Didn’t Bill Buckner try to play through painful ankle injuries once? Didn’t he keep playing, despite the fact that those sore ankles limited his range and mobility? Did that help the Sox out? Didn’t Curt Schilling once try to pitch through an ankle injury? It was a big game, the first game of the ALCS even. Didn’t he grit it out for the “good” of the team, and play through? Didn’t he show his guts and play his heart out for the team? Well, he did for the first three innings anyway. That’s when he was knocked out of the game, having given up six runs and digging a series hole for the Sox that they were just barely able to dig out of. It’s really good that he played, instead of giving the ankle more time to heal so that he could pitch, you know, effectively.

Yes. There are players who help their team just by having their name on a roster or line-up card. Manny Ramirez sitting in the dugout terrified Joe Torre. Even if the report stated that Manny was not available, just having him in the dugout changed the way Torre managed. Pedro Martinez changed a game just by being there. When he trotted out of the bullpen in game 5 of the ’99 ALDS, the Cleveland crowd went silent. They were scared to death of the sight of him jogging in. The Indians line-up had itself beat before he threw a pitch. Ellsbury isn’t Manny or Pedro. (Neither is Pedroia, by the way, but that’s another story)

Why can’t we trust that players know when they can play? Why can’t we assume that Ellsbury would want nothing more than to play the centerfield position left open by Cameron’s injuries? Why do fans keep assuming that “75% of so-and-so is better than a sub”? It’s usually not.

It hardly ever is.

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