GRAND SLAMS: INSANE FROWN POSSE
Ok, I give up. In fact, everyone should just give up. What have we learned in the last couple weeks of MLB? We’ve learned that everyone gets injured in every way, all the time. If it’s not Doug Fister getting injured for the second time in our short season, then it’s Matt Kemp making his quest for a historic season more difficult by getting some stupid injury or another. There are so many players missing games due to some physical hazard that it seems like the successful teams are merely the ones getting luckiest in avoiding the injury bug. Here’s a short list of key players that’ve missed games already:
Josh Hamilton, Yu Darvish, Neftali Feliz, Adrian Beltre, Brian McCann, Freddie Freeman, Tim Hudson, Chipper Jones, Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, Kevin Youkilis, Josh Beckett, Andrew Bailey, Stephen Drew, Brian Roberts, Brandon Phillips, Ryan Madson, Carlos Santana (the catcher, of course, not the genius composer of “Smooth”), Grady Sizemore, Travis Hafner, Shin-Soo Choo, Jared Weaver, Vernon Wells, Yoenis Cespedes, Brandon McCarthy, Sergio Santos, Kelly Johnson, Rickie Weeks, Lance Berkman, Carlos Beltran, Chris Carpenter, Kyle McClellan, David Freese, Pablo Sandoval, Brian Wilson, Emilio Bonifacio, Michael Morse, Wilson Ramos, Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth, Drew Storen, Cameron Maybin, Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Vance Worley, Matt Kemp, Ted Lilly, Kyle Farnsworth, B.J. Upton, Evan Longoria, Austin Jackson, Victor Martinez, Doug Fister, Justin Morneau, David Wright, Mariano Rivera and Michael Pineda.
There are tons more, depending on who you consider vital to your team’s success. And there are probably some that missed a couple games or are out for the whole year that I simply forgot. But you get the picture. Do you notice the trend that the teams doing surprisingly well are usually the teams with the least amount of significant injuries? And have you noticed the teams that’re disappointing so far this year are often the teams with lots of injuries? It almost seems as if avoiding major injuries to your key players is more important to your team’s success than almost anything else. Sheesh.
The second thing we’ve learned in the last couple weeks is how unreliable most bullpens are. Again, injuries play a part here, but a lot of the closer changes over the last few weeks have been due to simple ineffectiveness. At my count, more than 15 teams have either lost their expected closer to injury or have demoted him from the closer’s role due to apparently losing all his skills. This leads to the popular saying in baseball: you can trust your closer about as much as you can trust your girlfriend while you’re on tour.
And finally, the last couple weeks of the MLB season have taught us that paying lots of money is stupid and largely ineffective. So far, lots of low-budget teams are leading higher-budget teams by significant margins. Now, that trend may not last, but so far, more money spent on high-profile players has not equaled more wins for your team. And that makes me at least a little happy. If occasionally the little guy can win (and no, I’m not talking about my little guy here), then everyone else gets to win and watch hard-working, smartly-managed teams win despite a lower salary. And who can’t cheer for that?