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Scott Kazmir’s story keeps getting sadder

Jul 17, 2012, 5:47 PM EDT


In the span of four season Scott Kazmir went from 24-year-old All-Star to being out of the big leagues and now pitching for the independent league Sugarland Skeeters.

And as Sam Miller of Baseball Prospectus notes, Kazmir can’t even get those hitters out.

Yesterday he lasted just one inning, coughing up six runs on six hits, two walks, and a hit batter.

At age 24 he was striking out 10 batters per nine innings in the majors and at age 28 he’s getting knocked around by Atlantic League hitters. What a shame.

  1. AK47 - Jul 17, 2012 at 5:49 PM

    Given some of the comebacks we’ve seen this year – I wouldn’t be surprised if he re-surfaces in the Majors again in the next few years…provided his arm doesn’t actually fall off.

    • hittfamily - Jul 17, 2012 at 7:31 PM

      You read an article about how he is getting ripped by semi-pro players, and your thoughts are “I bet this guy could compete with the best in the world”?

  2. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jul 17, 2012 at 5:51 PM


    • baseballisboring - Jul 17, 2012 at 10:36 PM

      This was my reaction when I read that he’s only 28. Really? Wasn’t he 28 like 3 years ago?

  3. isaiahforreal - Jul 17, 2012 at 5:58 PM

    What actually happened to him? I remember when the Angels traded for him but that’s it.

    • kevinnunez - Jul 20, 2012 at 12:50 AM

      Injury after injury. Everytime he got injured he came back slightly inferior to his old self, and it eventually caught up with him.

  4. thehypercritic - Jul 17, 2012 at 6:16 PM

    Sad??? What planet are you living on.

    The still young man has made many millions, got a few years of major league stardom despite his physical stature, and despite his left arm no longer being what it once was he’s still young, rich, playing baseball and able to do anything he’d like with his life within reason.

    There’s no tremendous pain. No tragedy. No arrests or bankruptcies.

    Do we truly live in a world where a man can achieve so much and others look at his trying to chase down ghosts of summers past and think of it as sad?

    • jjschiller - Jul 17, 2012 at 6:27 PM

      Oh for Christ’s sake. Shut up.

      • chill1184 - Jul 17, 2012 at 6:33 PM

        Yea seriously, Im tired of these class warfare bullshit arguments regarding athletes.

    • theawesomersfranchise - Jul 18, 2012 at 1:17 AM

      Kid was living a dream and it came crashing down.

      Nope not sad at all

      Money doesn’t buy happiness for everyone
      Get a clue Critic

  5. keithbangedyermom - Jul 17, 2012 at 6:48 PM

    The Rays old regime rushed him and destroyed his arm.

    • areyesrn - Jul 17, 2012 at 7:15 PM

      after that 2008 World Series, i thought he’d be an ace equal to Cole Hamels

  6. thehypercritic - Jul 17, 2012 at 6:51 PM

    As someone who thinks the draft should be abolished and college athletes who drive revenue in major sports should be paid well in excess of the scholarship limits, your athlete’s class warfare comment is baffling.

    I’m not suggesting Kazmir doesn’t deserve every penny of his big contract, I’m simply confounded by the offhanded way in which long time major league starters are dismissed as “not very good” or American success stories like this, which have bizarre last acts, are dubbed “sad”.

    An average major league starter is still one of the best athletes on the planet. Elite by any standard that’s not simply comparing the very best in the history of the world to one another.

    Brien Taylor’s story is sad, but players who shine very brightly for a short period before their time in the limelight passes are success stories by any rational measure. Because a player doesn’t have Nolan Ryan’s career and longevity it isn’t a failure.

    Kazmir was very good at the highest level for a few years. He’s young, rich, healthy and playing baseball as best as he still can — it’s not class warfare to suggest this is not a sad affair. Weird or unexpected on the day of his all-star appearance? Sure. But not sad.

    • stabonerichard - Jul 17, 2012 at 7:43 PM

      Consider the conext of what you’re reading. It’s a friggin baseball blog, mang.

      Scott Kazmir was a rising star who flamed out at a much earlier age than anyone could have reasonably guessed. He’s gone from the ultimate stage to kicking around the independent leagues, still in his 20s. That’s gotta be a difficult life situation, money be damned. In the context of what it is (a guy seeing his career aspirations fade), it’s a sad deal.

      You bring up Brien Taylor, who showed up at some dude’s trailer to pick a fight and suffered a career-altering injury in the ensuing altercation. Although different circumstances, that’s a similarly sad situation where a guy’s seemingly bright future/career was cut short and put him down a very different life path.

      Not sure how you distinguish between those two. One guy having a larger bank account is missing the forest thru the trees.

    • hittfamily - Jul 17, 2012 at 8:08 PM

      I whole heartedly agree…not sad in terms of baseball. He overacheived and signed a massive contact, then got shitty without injury. Early success and suddenly falling apart is not “sad”. It is peculiar. Perhaps his work ethic isn’t what it once was. Sad in terms of careers is when injury ends a career, or a death, or poor decisions. Not simply enjoying early success, then fading away.

      Nick Adenhart: Sad
      Bo Jackson: Sad
      Doc Gooden: Sad

      Scott Kazmir, Bob Hamelin, Mark Wohlers, etc etc etc :not sad

      • stabonerichard - Jul 17, 2012 at 9:08 PM

        Without injury? Are we still talking about Scott Kazmir?

      • hittfamily - Jul 17, 2012 at 9:34 PM

        Yeah. The Rays saw his velocity was down, and he got away with pitching up in the zone longer than he should have been able too, so they traded him.

      • stabonerichard - Jul 17, 2012 at 10:02 PM

        Again, are we talking about the Scott Kazmir who started the 2008, 2009, 2010 & 2011 seasons on the DL? Or some other homey?

      • aiede - Jul 18, 2012 at 11:23 AM

        Joel Zumaya: Alternately infuriating (Guitar Hero and “box-moving” injuries) and sad (arm exploding when he tried to pitch).

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 17, 2012 at 8:44 PM

      Brien Taylor’s story is sad

      Honest question, do you know why Brien Taylor’s story is sad, or is just because he’s a failed #1 pick?

      • stabonerichard - Jul 17, 2012 at 9:20 PM

        Taylor showing up at some dude’s trailer to pick a fight, jacking up his shoulder in the process, and thereby derailing his big league career before it had a chance to get started… that qualifies as sad.

        Kazmir got a fast start towards stardom until injury problems started to slow things down. It led to him tweaking his mechanics in attempt to mitigate/avoid future injury, but after numerous chances he just couldn’t get past the nagging injuries and his big league chances ran out. Still in his 20s, he’s kicking around independent ball wearing that Sugarland Skeeters cap with pride. But dammit, do not try to sell that as a sad situation.

        Why is one *sad* and the other is not? Well, it’s complicated. Almost seems like something that could be added to baseball’s book of unwritten rules. Maybe in the appendix or something.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 17, 2012 at 9:32 PM

        In a bar in Harlowe, North Carolina, Taylor’s brother Brenden got into a fight, and suffered head lacerations. Once Brien found out, he and a cousin went to the assailant’s trailer home to confront him. Brien, having apparently learned nothing from what happened to his brother, got into a fight, and fell on his shoulder. This resulted in a dislocated shoulder and a torn labrum, two devastating injuries for any baseball player, but especially for a pitcher.

        Reason I ask is most think he’s just a failed #1 who never amounted to anything when the truth is he was pitching really well for his age, then the fight happened. He never recovered after the surgery.

      • stabonerichard - Jul 17, 2012 at 9:53 PM

        Taylor also received a then-record signing bonus just north of $1.5M… a significant amount of money, especially 20+ years ago (wow, we’re all getting old).

        I think both his and Kazmir’s are sad ordeals (particularly when the word is used in the context of the baseball blogosphere, where I think we all realize we spend a pretty ridiculous amount of time watching/following/talking sports but are able to separate it from the truly important stuff in life).

        One way or another, it’s newsworthy to hear just how far Kazmir has fallen. Sugarland Skeeters. Ouch.

    • sneschalmers - Jul 17, 2012 at 10:05 PM

      It’s all about context here. I don’t disagree with you in saying that when you take a step back and look at the big picture (he’s a kid in his 20s, who has made good money, played at the highest level of baseball, held numerous records, and has achieved some fame) it sounds like a great story.

      But I want you to ask yourself then: why didn’t he retire after he got cut from the bigs? With all that money, former success, and fame, why isn’t he just hanging out by the pool in a mansion? Why is he toiling away getting ripped in some nowhere independent league? Because he loves baseball. It’s not only his passion, but a large part of who he is as a person. And it’s quickly leaving him despite every mechanical tweak, every conditioning run, every lifting program, every long toss routine he tries.

      Do you wonder why so many retired athletes have trouble transitioning to retirement? A 2009 SI article (source: details the financial ruin many former pro athletes go through post retirement (e.g. after 2 years 78% of former NFL players are bankrupt or under financial stress due to joblessness or divorce. Within 5 years of retirement, 60% of all former NBA players are bankrupt.), but the problem is much more than finances.

      There is a wealth of research on post-retirement depression in civilians of all different socioeconomic statuses (I’m on my personal laptop and all my reference articles are on my lab computer, but a quick google scholar search turns up 10+ pages of articles), which state that many retired workers experience great depression after retirement because their job was not only their passion, but their identity. And when you take away their vocation, you take away a large part of who they are.

      The problem with professional athletics is that deselection is so fast and heartless; year after year new replacements are coming out of high school, college, and foreign professional leagues vying for a set number of MLB roster spots. Injuries, cost, age, or just plain not being good enough anymore can get you cut so quickly without any chance to prepare for the end of your career. For the end of Scott Kazmir, the baseball player. It takes time to re-establish your identity. To figure out who you are outside of the game. For many retired pro athletes, the game is all they know, so they cling to it desperately thinking that one more shot at the show will fix the wrongs in their life because the game is all they know.

      That is why it’s sad.

      • sneschalmers - Jul 17, 2012 at 10:29 PM

        Sorry here’s the google scholar search I referenced:

  7. cackalackyank - Jul 17, 2012 at 7:19 PM

    I can’t help but wonder is this really a physical thing or is it a psychological issue? Or…is it possible there is a substance abuse issue? Just asking….. It just seems to me this was a real sudden collapse once he hit the west coast. If memory serves he was involved in a deadline deal from the Rays to the Angels…and the idea was that he would have been an upgrade for the Angels…and that never really materialized. It just seems given his youth that a knowledgeable pitching coach could turn him around unless he had multiple arm injuries. Some how I am seeing some other issue here. Anyone know more details?

    • thehypercritic - Jul 17, 2012 at 7:41 PM

      Not steroids or illegal drugs that would harm performance.

      I believe there was a large velo drop even before he was sent west and his last successful streak with Tampa was staying out of the zone and throwing many more secondary pitches than when he could live off that monster fastball.

      I’m under the impression his body (5’8″ and not exactly jacked) could no longer produce the raw stuff it once did and the past several years he’s tried to learn how to be effective with less raw stuff without much success.

    • thehypercritic - Jul 17, 2012 at 7:43 PM

      Not steroids or illegal drugs that would harm performance.

      I believe there was a large velo drop even before he was sent west and his last successful streak with Tampa was staying out of the zone and throwing many more secondary pitches than when he could live off that monster fastball.

      I’m under the impression his body (5’8″ and not exactly jacked) could no longer produce the raw stuff it once did and the past several years he’s tried to learn how to be effective with less raw stuff without much success.

      Fear, and hope I’m wrong, we may see a similarly sharp career arc for seabiscuit.

  8. phillyphever - Jul 17, 2012 at 7:31 PM

    I wonder….Lidge hasn’t really been the same since that all-star game fisaco back in 08 (thank you Hurdle for having him warm up 6 times). Kazmir was also part of that fisaco as well considering he pitched the 15th inning when Rays management told Francona not to do so (he pitched that Sunday). Hasn’t been the same since.

    • phillyphever - Jul 17, 2012 at 7:32 PM

      *fiasco (before the grammar police shows up and rips me a new one).

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 17, 2012 at 8:48 PM

      Is that true? In the ’08 playoffs he pitched 9.1 IP, 13K/3BB with 1 ER given up (0.97 ERA) or was it a lot worse than that?

      • phillyphever - Jul 17, 2012 at 9:20 PM

        Well, he did have a 4.02 ERA the second half of the season, so there was signs of something. It’s just a theory, but as I stated in the beginning, Lidge certainly fell off the map big time after that all-star game. Same thing could have happened to Kazmir.

  9. randygnyc - Jul 17, 2012 at 7:45 PM

    His story could be the poster advertisement as to why athletes should get the contracts they want without the publics admonishment. I’m not sure how long the average MLB Career lasts, but it can’t be more than a couple of years. It only seems outrageous to some people when one of the few monster contracts get signed.

  10. hushbrother - Jul 17, 2012 at 8:00 PM

    His body just couldn’t stand up to the rigors of starting. Even with the Rays babying him, rarely having him go more than six innings. In hindsight, they probably should have made him a reliever.

  11. sawxalicious - Jul 18, 2012 at 3:55 AM

    Not saying its sad, not saying it’s not sad…but I would give my right arm to be financially secure for the rest of my life and having the opportunity to be playing baseball every day whether it’s the big leagues, minors, independent league or a sandlot…

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