Ron Darling, the reason why we still watch Mets games on SNY, has finally seen enough when it comes to injuries. After Mets starting pitcher Robert Gsellman pulled up lame running to first base with an apparent hamstring injury last night in Miami, the venerable Darling could no longer restrain himself:
“If baseball doesn’t at some point get these newbie trainers…we get them in a room with some of the old trainers and people that took care of baseball players and how to keep them healthy and get them in a room and try to tap into some of their knowledge on how you train baseball players. Not weightlifters, not six-pack wearers, baseball players. They’re doing a disservice to their million-dollar athletes that they’re paying. It’s a joke to watch this happen each and every night.”
Ron's comments about injuries and training pic.twitter.com/yqf47Nu326
— SNY (@SNYtv) June 28, 2017
Except that it’s not a funny one, Ron. It’s a sad commentary on baseball in 2017. Darling hit the nail squarely on the head with his unabashed analysis. There are too many muscle strains and pulls and tears in the game these days. Bulk has taken priority over flexibility when it comes to conditioning and the players, teams and fans are paying the price. Strength is being emphasized but there is a fine line between general strength and the type of strength needed to perform baseball tasks.
Baseball is a game of skill and endurance. Trainers must keep that in mind. Darling is right. Players are built to hit the ball further and throw it harder these days. They are achieving those things but the residual downstream effects are devastating. It is rare to see a player dress for more than 150 games in a season. Almost every power hitter falls victim to some type of ailment and pitchers are straining not just their pitching arms now, but muscles throughout their bodies.
Flexibility has always been preached by baseball trainers. Stay loose. Look around the field these days. Anyone look “loose” to you? Almost everyone is cut like a bodybuilder. The are enamored with the home run and players want to get stronger to meet that standard. The more HRs you hit, the further to the right the decimal point moves on your paycheck.
For pitchers, they don’t even get a second look by scouts if they can’t throw in the mid-90’s consistently. Speed and power is everything. If you can make the ball move, even better. But it’s the velocity that gets you noticed. And how do you get that velocity if you don’t already possess it naturally? You guessed it – by lifting weights.
This is baseball in the new millennium. We ache of the old days when players were more durable and reliable. When pitchers threw complete games and everyday players trotted out to their positions come hell or high water. Those days are gone. The quest for the cartoon character physiques have ruined baseball.
Darling pretty much displayed his dismay for today’s culture in one frustrating swoop on Tuesday night. The Mets are besieged by injuries again. Injuries that in days gone by were unheard of or avoidable. Noah Syndergaard’s is the poster boy for new age pitcher injuries with his torn lat. Obviously he wasn’t loose when he took the mound. His arm may have been, but the rest of his body wasn’t. Who tears a lat? Better yet, what the *&^* is a lat?
Zach Wheeler is also on the DL. He has bicep tendonitis. How did That happen? Who knows? Isn’t anyone watching and monitoring him? Gsellmen pulled a leg muscle running to first. Don’t pitchers run on their days off and stretch properly before games?
The problem isn’t specific to the Mets, but they seem to be bitten by more injuries than most teams. Darling is right. Time to go back to the future for a change in training methods.