Feb 13, 2013, 12:56 PM EDT
I went for my annual physical this morning. I’m OK and stuff, but I am NOT in the Best Shape of My Life. And the entire conversation I had with my doctor about it made me realize how silly and stupid old school, anti-sabermetric arguments are.
Note: I warn the medical professionals among you that I am going to refer to some things in a very hamfisted way. Please feel free to correct my mistakes and misleading statements in the comments.
Most of us know that you really don’t want to have a high cholesterol number. We probably had it ingrained in our heads since the 1980s at least that if your “cholesterol” — the term usually used generically, but also known as “bad cholesterol” or LDL-C — is pushing 200 or more that you’re in a bad place and at risk of heart attacks and all of that. So, dude, lower that cholesterol!
Except it’s not that simple anymore. In the past few years general practitioners have increasingly moved away from talking to their patients about that old bad cholesterol scale to more sophisticated and refined measures. Measures which have a much greater correlation with heart health than the old numbers. I’m sure it’s way more complicated than this (really, talk to your doctor), but for our purposes, LDL-P is a WAY better measure than the bad cholesterol/LDL-C measure. Indeed, you may very well have a low LDL-C number but still be at serious risk of a heart attack because your LDL-P number is too high.
This is where I am. I get a physical every year. After a not great one in 2010 I bought a treadmill, cut out sweets, cut back on beer and lost weight. I lost about 25 pounds or so, in fact. I went for a physical in December 2011. My “bad cholesterol” number was much improved. In the healthy range. As far as I knew, I was in the BSOML.
Since last year, however, my doctor began, as a matter of course, testing LDL-P levels. I am way, way too high in my LDL-P levels. This is true even though I’m still down in weight from where I was back in 2010 and despite the fact that my bad cholesterol numbers are still in good shape. The old metrics are misleading! They were failing me because they were not telling me and my doctor about my heart attack risks nearly as well as the newer, more sophisticated metrics.
After getting lectured by my doctor about how I need to change my diet, I began to laugh. I began to imagine myself as an old school baseball writer listening to this. I began to formulate a rebuttal to my doctor that could have easily shown up in Jon Heyman’s Hall of Fame column or something, switching out WAR for LDL-P:
“LDL-P. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Look, doc, you can bury your head in your spreadsheets and clinical studies which purport to show correlation between dying of heart attacks and your fancy acronyms, but bad cholesterol numbers are widely accepted and understood by people who aren’t doctors. If they were good enough for the doctor I had in 1984 they’re good enough for me. I prefer the eye test anyway. I look in the mirror and I see a much thinner me than I saw two years ago. I see that my 34 jeans are actually loose. I see my breakfast each morning and note that I’m eating way more cereal now than eggs, and my 1984 doctor told me that’s what I should do. I don’t need some abstract number to tell me something which goes against all intuitive sense. You’re using LDL-P as an argument-ender, and frankly, the tone of you LDL-P people has gotten extreme.”
Science and math is science and math no matter what you apply it to. If people in any other field besides baseball treated scientific and mathematical metrics with the sort of willfully ignorant disdain that many baseball writers treat advanced baseball metrics, they’d be laughingstocks. And while, yes, it is an extreme example, if doctors did so in the medical field more people would die. Baseball isn’t life and death of course, but I’m glad my doctor doesn’t approach his field of study like Jon Heyman and guys like him approach theirs.
Anyway, end of deep thought. I’m off to chuck all of the cereal, bread, crackers and pasta I have into the garbage and begin steeling myself for egg-white omelets, fish and a lot more lentils and things. If that makes me a dietary stathead who needs to get his head out of his laptop and eat some damn bagels once in a while, well, so be it.
Jul 10, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT
Before you look, guess which year it was. I am somewhat embarrassed to have been a couple of years off.
Jul 10, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT
Cliff Lee’s first minor-league rehab start was cut short by bad weather, but the Phillies left-hander took the mound at Single-A for the second time last night and tossed four innings as planned.
Jul 10, 2014, 9:17 AM EDT
The Cardinals’ most important position player may miss some time.
Jul 10, 2014, 8:57 AM EDT
Papelbon likes Philly just fine. But he thinks anyone who wouldn’t want to play for a winner is nuts.
Jul 10, 2014, 8:10 AM EDT
Death. Taxes. The Red Sox throwing a guy under the bus as he leaves the team.
Jul 10, 2014, 7:09 AM EDT
A handful of injuries went down last night, but so too did strict adherence to the Restoring Pitching Act of 2013.
Jul 9, 2014, 11:21 PM EDT
Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez is 3-for-6 with a double, a homer, and three RBI through two games on his minor league rehab assignment with the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox and is on track to be activated from the disabled list this Friday according to Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post.
Jul 9, 2014, 10:33 PM EDT
The Reds are one of the hottest teams in baseball and beat the Cubs on Wednesday night by a score of 4-1, but there won’t be much of a celebratory mood in the clubhouse afterward …
Jul 9, 2014, 9:45 PM EDT
Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki hinted to Mark Kizsla of the Denver Post last week that he would like to be traded to a contender. But it doesn’t sound like the Rockies front office will grant him that wish this summer.
Jul 9, 2014, 8:52 PM EDT
Some rough news here for the slumping Blue Jays. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports Adam Lind has been diagnosed with a non-displaced fracture in his right foot and is expected to miss the next 6-8 weeks.
Jul 9, 2014, 8:05 PM EDT
They say humans can’t fly. Jackie Bradley Jr. begs to differ …
Jul 9, 2014, 7:59 PM EDT
Red Sox closer Koji Uehara has been named to the American League All-Star roster in place of Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka, who is on the disabled list with a right elbow injury.
Jul 9, 2014, 7:10 PM EDT
Watch as Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt sent his team to a Wednesday afternoon walkoff defeat of the visiting Marlins with this two-run double to left-center field …
Jul 9, 2014, 6:27 PM EDT
As first relayed by MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch, left fielder Brett Gardner is out of the Yankees’ starting lineup on Wednesday night against the Indians due to a lower abdominal strain. Gardner first thought it was a groin strain, but that more-severe injury has already been ruled out by a team physician.
Jul 9, 2014, 5:40 PM EDT
Yankees designated hitter Carlos Beltran has been scratched from tonight’s lineup against the Indians after a ball he hit during batting practice bounced up and struck him near the eye.
Jul 9, 2014, 5:25 PM EDT
I mean, maybe he can act, but it’s probably better that he’s playing baseball.
Jul 9, 2014, 5:22 PM EDT
Seattle has optioned right-hander Taijuan Walker back to Triple-A, but it looks like the move might be more about keeping the 21-year-old rookie on his normal schedule rather than any sort of performance-based demotion.
Jul 9, 2014, 5:03 PM EDT
The Dodgers, however, will only be on the hook for $4.5 million of that. Or less than 2% of their annual payroll.
Jul 9, 2014, 4:52 PM EDT
Before tonight he’d played in 87 of the Royals’ first 89 games after missing a grand total of six games in the previous two seasons.
Jul 9, 2014, 3:40 PM EDT
After a spectacular start to his MLB career Mashiro Tanaka has looked somewhat human of late, allowing nine runs and a .333 opponents’ batting average in his last two starts. And now we may know why.
- And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights 30
- The Rockies “aren’t looking around very hard” for a trade of star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki 18
- Jury finds the Dodgers partially negligent, awards $18 million to Bryan Stow 44
- Masahiro Tanaka injured: Yankees ace to undergo an MRI exam on his right arm 60
- David Ortiz is not pleased that his name got pulled into the John Lackey-Nelson Cruz thing 99
- And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights 64
- Cardinals “looking for offense” … not Jake Peavy 33
- 2014 Home Run Derby participants … 28
- John Lackey on Nelson Cruz: “Not even going to comment … I’ve got nothing to say about him” (143)
- And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights (126)
- The 2014 All-Star rosters have been announced (103)
- Giants broadcaster says Angel Hernandez “does not belong in the big leagues” (101)
- David Ortiz is not pleased that his name got pulled into the John Lackey-Nelson Cruz thing (99)