Hawkeye….we need YOU!
Some of us grew up watching the antics of Hawkeye, Trapper John, Radar, Hot Lips,etc on M.A.S.H (Mobile Army Surgical Unit) on weekly TV from 1972-83. The setting was actually Korea but most viewers transposed it to the Vietnam War. Hawkeye, one of the doctors, was quick-witted, clever and always seem to have the “answer” to the problems of the day @ MASH. Maybe…he can help us with the MLB’s growing injury issues.
….currently in 2021 there has been a rash of injuries that force players to miss games. Using the Cardinals as a prime example. Let’s compare this year to 2015…not really long ago. On the same corresponding date, in 2015 there had been 6 players on the 15 day DL with two of them later moved to the 60 day DL. This year, a mere 6 years later the IL (DL has been renamed) the Cards had 19 players on the 10 day IL with two being moved to the 60 day IL and 3 players (Kim, Bader, O’Neill) having been on the IL on two different occasions. That’s over a 200% increase!! I would presume that most other MLB teams have similar numbers regarding injuries. In fact, the San Diego Padres lead the league in “games missed”.
….this hasn’t always been the case. Choosing a random Cardinal team—1989, 6 players played in 155 games or more. The lowest number of games for any of the starters was 141 games– catcher Tony Pena. Meanwhile in 2019, the Cards had just 4 players play in 148+ games. Soooo….this “work load” has been decreasing steadily for several decades. Occasional “Days off”, with the primary purpose being “rest” for the player have become very common. Decades ago, players didn’t want to sit out because they were apprehensive that their substitute would shine & replace them permanently. Ya all know the Wally Pipp sitting out for Lou Gehrig story. Maybe a “Starting 8” maybe should be stretched to a “Starting 12 to keep all players skills fresh? Can you still win that way?…well, Tampa Bay currently does this type of thing and they’re doing just fine (1st place).
…the Cards rotation has been decimated. They’ve lost their ace–Jack Flaherty, Dakota Hudson, KH Kim, Miles Mikolas from their starting rotation. Generally hesitant & reluctant to walk down the “Trade” Path, the Cards might do so quickly if another Cincy Reds series occurs (getting swept). I’m going to throw a “line out” to fish for the Cards—Jon Gray(Col-last year of contract); Matthew Boyd(Det)- FA after 22; Kyle Gibson-Tx (highest pay $9m but has 2.06 ERA– FA after ’22. Yimi Garcia—Miami-1.23 ERA, FA at the end of the year.
…its just not in the Lou, compared to 2019 (same time length), the number of IL stints have increased by 31% with pitchers making up the bulk of IL listings according to San Conte (former MLB trainer)
Conte has observed a pattern to the increase in injuries. Overall, soft-tissue ailments were up 117% through spring training/early months of 2021 compared to 2019. More exactly, groin injuries were up 700% (from 2 to 16); hamstring injuries 194%(from 16 to 47) and obligue injuries 83%(12 to 22).
…preventing soft-tissue injuries should be a primary goal of each team. Some think that teams are too cautious in building up players from a small to a large workload. Coach Conte put it this way, “Let’s just say running, for instance, at 90 percent, which is still fast, but now comes April 1 and they’ve got to run first to third at 100 percent, but they really haven’t done it much. And, they may not have had as many at-bats in spring training, while they’re going to try to take it easy for the “long run.” Players must be pushed to compete in spring training to go “maximum” effort or they aren’t fully prepared for the season. Further I feel that players could hire their own “trainer” who could individualize the workouts in preparation for spring training.
…Hawkeye reached out to other experts who felt that the “whole Body” had to be trained not just specific parts of the body. Currently, pitchers work very hard on using the pitching arm….but the entire body plays a role in each pitch—balance, push off with the legs, proper balance, turning of the upper body, exact timing of the release of the pitch. The entire body, not just the arm.
….Some project that the shortened 2020 season has been a factor also in ’21. NYY reliever Zack Britton, said, that continual repetition is necessary to be at your best. “Hitters probably missed out on about maybe 400 at-bats or something like that. That’s a lot of at-bats and buildup that they’re missing. Pitchers, the same thing with innings. And then…think about the minor league guys; they didn’t have anything. So to come back now and have these workloads, it’s going to be tough on your body” said Britton
….the MLB schedule itself is probably a drawback. Proper rest and recovery is a very important aspect of any exercise program. It allows the body time to repair and strengthen itself in between games. It also allows the athlete to recover & rejuvenate, both physically and psychologically from the stress of the competition. The body is allowed to adapt to the stress associated with exercise, replenishes muscle glycogen (energy stores) and provides time for the body tissue to repair. With that backdrop, Hawkeye also feels that a greater use of day games would be better for the health of the players. Saturday, Sundays & Holidays should all be day games. Currently, It seems to me that many players get to the park several hours early for a night game to work on skills. While the “drive” to improve is commendable, where’s the drive to take care of the body? Finally, your Mom was right—SLEEP is important. Sleep is important aspect of rest and recovery when it comes to sports performance. Athletes who are sleep deprived are at risk of losing aerobic endurance and may experience subtle changes in hormone levels, which can lead to higher levels of a stress hormone. The proper balance of rest & work is required to perform at the highest level. Don’t tell me that day games won’t draw…it doesn’t seem to hurt the NFL or NCAA FB –who play the majority of their games in day light. Further, cut down on the 2-3 game series, play each series as a 4-5-6 game series—far less traveling (less cost to owners), players are afforded more rest time.
….Games have to be made quicker! Slice some time between each half inning (put those ads up between batters)—as a kid, it was 1 minute between each half inning-now its 2.5 minutes(that’s 22 min/game right there!). Take away that strike zone box on TV and let the umpires widen the strike zone so batters will swing. Frankly, most of us don’t want to carve out 3-4 hours for one game of a 162 game schedule. Further, insert a full time Challenge umpire at each park (like the scorekeeper is)—he/she has 1 minute to evaluate the call and move on! But…don’t use an extra umpire or former umpire who…it seems to me…is reticent to change the call of their “buddies” in Blue. Anyone with true knowledge of the game could do the job. Many former players could do it easily.
…well the 4077 unit is moving out now….thanks to Hawkeye for his ideas. Don’t forget… you can find all of the blogs on bobryansportsblog.com or the recent blogs on my Facebook page (Bob Ryan). It’s really enjoyable for all the readers, & myself, to read YOUR thoughts. Please post on Facebook & just send to me & I’ll post. So long…from the 4077
Hawkeye….we need YOU!