Heroes

Books, Management, Media, Paul Lebowitz's 2011 Baseball Guide, Players, Spring Training

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen exploded after pitcher Jake Peavy had to leave Saturday’s game with pain in his shoulder—ESPN Story.

Peavy, recovering from an injury of unknown territory for an athlete—a detached muscle in his back—admitted to having shoulder pain all spring and (deluding himself?) thought it was normal spring soreness. Now Guillen, a players manager, is not going to believe Peavy no matter what he says regarding his health.

This is an ominous sign for the White Sox; Peavy has always been a high-risk pitcher because of his all-out delivery and atrocious mechanics; in fact, on an annual basis, I said that I was waiting (not hoping, waiting, realistically and objectively) for his arm to come flying off at the shoulder. The one year—2010—I accepted the motion for what it was and picked him to win the Cy Young Award, he rips the latissimus dorsi completely off the bone.

With his salary ($37 million guaranteed through 2012), you’ve got a potentially bottomless pit in the White Sox payroll.

The mechanical issues are what they are and can’t be seen as the final arbiter in whether or not a pitcher stays healthy. You look at a pitcher like Dave Stieb, who had horrendous mechanics—so bad that Stieb had a public back-and-forth with Tom Seaver when Seaver criticized them—and was one of the most durable pitchers in baseball from 1980-1990; and Steve Karsay had picture-perfect mechanics right out of the textbook and was constantly hurt.

You never know.

The best you can do is let them pitch and hope they stay healthy; that it’s in their genes to be able to withstand the pounding that all pitchers take.

As far as Peavy’s decision to pitch through the pain, you can chalk that up to some macho code combined with the desire to be the man who pitched through the pain and led his troops to victory.

Athletes receive divergent signals. Should they confess to being too hurt to play? Or is it part of their job description to fight through normal aches that come with strenuous physical activity?

There’s an old saying of knowing the difference between pain and injury.

What that means is anyone’s guess.

Just like the mechanics of all pitchers and hitters are different, so too are their pain thresholds and it’s unfair to judge someone who is legitimately hurt and wants to participate but can’t.

Years ago, Jim Leyland was quoted as saying: “Christ, you have to play in a little pain.” And “We don’t need any *bleeping* heroes.”

Which is it?

Where’s the line between doing what needs to be done not in a selfish, aggrandizing way but as a means to assist the group in pursuit of the common goal?

Kirk Gibson‘s limping homer in the 1988 World Series off of Dennis Eckersley in game 1, spurring the Dodgers to their 5 game destruction of the heavily favored A’s are on one end of the spectrum; the prepubescent, adolescent fantasies about courageously and selflessly saving the girl and limping away in bloody, dramatic glory exemplified in videos by the talentless Enrique Iglesias are on the other.

A billion people (and not just kids) have the backyard, Gibson moment or the closed door Iglesias moment every single day—only Iglesias was arrogant enough to place it into the plotline of a video.

The truth is it doesn’t happen very often and many times, those that try to work their way through the pain by means of “helping” the team end up making things worse.

Where’s the line between selfishness and heroism?

The line between playing with pain or, as Leyland said, “not needing any *bleeping* heroes”?

Maybe there’s a stat for it.

If it’s discovered somewhere, let me know because I certainly can’t find it.

I published a full excerpt of my book on Wednesday here.

The book is available  now. Click here to get it in paperback or E-Book on I-Universe or on Amazon or BN. It’s also available via E-book on Borders.com.


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2 thoughts on “Heroes

  1. Yesterday “The Natural” was on TCM and I watched it from start to finish as I hadn’t seen it in a long time. When Roy Hobbs comes up to bat in that last scene, trying to win for pennant, he’s bleeding right through his jersey and, of course, is playing in spite of the doctor telling him he could die if he swung a bat. I think players today all have the Roy Hobbs complex.

  2. I think it’s the player’s job to insist he can play through pain and it’s the job of the team’s management and medical staff to determine whether or not the pain he’s playing through is manageable or if it’s going to affect his performance and/or long-term health.

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