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Baseball players get a lot of strange off-the-field injuries. Why?

Jan 18, 2013, 11:33 AM EDT

Emergency Room

John Paschal wrote a guest piece for Baseball Prospectus the other day. It’s about strange off-the-field injuries. John catalogs them, compares them to off-the-field injuries in other sports and wonders why baseball players seem to end up in the Land of Bizarre Infirmities more often than athletes in other sports.

I have some ideas about this. John quoted one of these ideas of mine, though I’ll admit it was sort of a kneejerk response and I’m not sure I feel as comfortable with it a week or two later:

“I’d say the reason baseball players injure themselves in weird ways is because they (a) have a lot of free time; and (b) they have a lot of money,” posits baseball writer Craig Calcaterra, of the NBC Sports website Hardball Talk, in an emailed response. “This allows them to fill that free time with all manner of fun and, occasionally, dangerous activities. Helping things along is that, as elite athletes, they have never had a particularly hard time doing things most people can’t do. I have this feeling a lot of them think they’re going to be immediately and effortlessly successful in other pursuits as well. Which, unfortunately, isn’t always the case.”

John Thorn had an explanation too. I like his answer better.

Either way, fun article.

  1. sportsdrenched - Jan 18, 2013 at 11:38 AM

    Hold ma beer while try somethin’

    • heyblueyoustink - Jan 18, 2013 at 12:56 PM

      Hey, sounds just like my weekends!

  2. snowbirdgothic - Jan 18, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    Football players have someone else wash their trucks for them.

  3. yankeepunk3000 - Jan 18, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    yea that’s fine if they do something dumb like bounce on a trampoline after surgery or go snow boarding after a leg surgery but in my life time I’ve seen players miss good time for some of the weirdest things, here are some…Fluffing a pellow, walking down a stair case and poping a joint out, stretching…STRETCHING!!!!, playing catch with son (not gonna lie that made me laugh so much when its WHAT THEY DO). Dancing, square dancing, cutting of toe nails, walking, walking the dog, driving a bumper car ( also made me laugh) drinking soda, or some type of drink, getting to excited at a wrestling show shouting and dislocating something ( happend in the 90s forgot who but it was watching hulk Hogan turn heel and I’m not gonna lie I went nuts too) playing an instrument, jogging, jogging to the field, jumping the small fence after a walk off, walk off homerun(wel all remember that) tripping on son, or tripping on something at the house….now these have all stuck to me over the decades for how odd they were, can’t remember all the players but I know Reyes, giambi, moralez, Shawn Green I think piazza, were injured in one of the things I mentioned…either way sometimes its as if these athletes are made of glass…

    • blacksables - Jan 18, 2013 at 11:52 AM

      That’s the longest sentence I’ve ever read.

      • nolanwiffle - Jan 18, 2013 at 1:11 PM

        Technically speaking, the use of an ellipsis at the end could indicate that it’s an open thought with more to come. Which is to say, we may not have witnessed the end of that sentence yet.

    • seattlej - Jan 18, 2013 at 12:06 PM

      I find it had to believe that even with all of that you didn’t include carrying venison down a flight of stairs.

    • flosox - Jan 18, 2013 at 12:32 PM

      I’m pretty sure everything in the above “longest-sentence-in-the-world” happened to JD Drew. I used to hold my breath when the dude sneezed…

    • ltzep75 - Jan 18, 2013 at 12:54 PM

      William Faulkner, is that you?

      • historiophiliac - Jan 18, 2013 at 2:28 PM

        It’s like you’re daring Gator to step up.

      • ltzep75 - Jan 18, 2013 at 5:10 PM

        You know, I’d prefer Gator’s attempt at stream of consciousness much more than Absolom Absolom.

  4. historiophiliac - Jan 18, 2013 at 12:02 PM

    I like to think of it as the universe’s way of humbling them.

    • jarathen - Jan 18, 2013 at 12:45 PM

      More athletes could use this.

  5. cur68 - Jan 18, 2013 at 12:56 PM

    Some turgid prose in that article. An author could injure himself writing like that. Still, the question remains: are ballplayers more likely to do something odd and come a-cropper than any other athlete (I think all that wordsmithing has got to me)?

    What I like about ballplayers might hold a partial answer. They seem more like regular people than the semi-android driven-by-regime athletes of other sports. Hence, they engage in more ordinary tasks and, being young, occasionally foolish, with an abundance of free time and money they have the opportunity and nature to do random and bizarre things to themselves. My reasoning is sort of a medley of Craig’s and Joh Thorn’s. Now that’s only a partial answer I think. I think the rest of it has to do with their awareness of these factors and the urge to go out there and do enough goofy stuff till you become part of the legend.

    I find all of this at once splendid and frightening. Splendid because its so quirky. Frightening because it’s only a matter of time till we receive news of the first ballplayer to be injured by shoeing his own horse, possibly by laminating his hand to an anvil, or some such devastating and career ending foolishness. It’ll either be that or we’ll receive news that Larry Jones never did get that ladder off his basketball hoop and something bad happened during a layup.

    If any of them read this here blog (and if not, why not, hmmm?) I’d just like to say, take it easy fellas, please.

    • historiophiliac - Jan 18, 2013 at 3:36 PM

      Unless you’re a punk. Then, go all out.

      • cur68 - Jan 18, 2013 at 3:43 PM

        Headline: “Trout Injured By Grouper”

        Its only a matter of time.

      • historiophiliac - Jan 18, 2013 at 3:44 PM

        Please, Jesus, be a noodling accident.

      • cur68 - Jan 18, 2013 at 3:57 PM

        Food related injuries are more Fielder’s beat.

  6. albertmn - Jan 18, 2013 at 1:00 PM

    I think you have a higher percentage of players in MLB that are not well rounded athletes. Less agile people are more likely to suffer odd injuries. Have you seen Delmon Young run and/or play in the field? Have you seen 98% of the pitchers when they try to hit (or even when some try to field a ground ball)? Some of these guys are in MLB because they do one thing very well, especially pitchers, where as NFL and NBA players have to be a little more athletic overall (exception of NBA if you are really tall 7’2″ and over).

    • historiophiliac - Jan 18, 2013 at 2:37 PM

      Oh, yeah, every football player I know is agile and well-rounded….well, ok, rounded anyway, many of them.

  7. makeham98 - Jan 18, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    When you take the lifestyle of a minor leaguer who often signed stright from high school, then throw in millions of dollars and in some cases a mentally challenged gf or wife, it’s amazing they survive to 30.

    Barely a step up from junior hockey.

  8. hackerjay - Jan 18, 2013 at 2:21 PM

    If you look at the majority of the injuries he brings up in the article, they lead to the player missing just a game or two. If a football player sleeps wrong and gets a kink in their neck on Tuesday, no one will ever know. He might miss a practice, and then be ready for Sunday. Or, if it is a minor issue like that, then he’ll just play through it. A baseball player plays 150+ games a year. If they have a minor injury in June, they just take the day off since one game isn’t that big a deal, but everyone will find out that they injured themselves doing something stupid or silly.

    The sheer numbers make it obvious that you would hear more strange stories about baseball players because not only are there tons of players (like he mentioned in the article) but there are also way more opportunities to miss a game.

    • El Bravo - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:10 PM

      Very good point there. In other words, baseball players are a bunch of lilypad pussies. Just kidding, but I wanted to write lilypad pussies real bad.

    • Roger Moore - Jan 18, 2013 at 7:36 PM

      I think the “play through it” factor is very important when comparing baseball to football. Football players abuse pain killers to play through stuff no sane person would ever try to play through, while baseball players just get a day off on an odd schedule.

      I’ve also heard speculation that a lot of the strange injuries you hear about baseball players getting are made up. They’ve actually gotten into some kind of fairly routine drunken accident but don’t want to admit that’s why they can’t play. Instead, they make up a wild and implausible story about how they got hurt that distracts attention from the truth. Similarly, “flu-like symptoms” are supposed to be a frequent euphemism for “hangover”.

  9. drunkenhooliganism - Jan 18, 2013 at 2:47 PM

    The preview in the android app, shortens the title to “Baseball Players Get a Lot of Strange”

    • El Bravo - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:11 PM

      which woulda been the most obvious headline ever

    • ltzep75 - Jan 18, 2013 at 5:11 PM

      That’s fantastic.

    • grizz2202 - Jan 21, 2013 at 4:36 PM

      In other news, the sun’s coming up tomorrow. Film at 11.

  10. sebaker - Jan 18, 2013 at 5:30 PM

    I always think of it as being about how baseball players need fine motor skills to grip and hold balls, or for that matter run the bases. I bet a lot of football linemen play with broken fingers, full leg or elbow braces … hard to play shortstop and bat second in that condition. Even in hockey you can all but tape your stick into your hand. So anyway something like the Andrew Cashner injury just isn’t something that would affect his ability to play some other major sports. I bet soccer players are always cutting up their hands fighting each other with broken beer bottles

  11. yankeepunk3000 - Jan 18, 2013 at 5:52 PM

    lmao sorry about that…I was typing that with my phone using the app…while having 2 hours of sleep, so I just rambled on. though I’m sure you guys got my point thank you!

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