The Mets have had 460 official days lost to players on the disabled list this year, and it is only halfway through the season. That does not include the loss of a player from day to day availability for a cold, sniffle or other days needed to attend to family matters. For most of us our first reaction is usually: “Holy smokes, I would have been fired from my job if I tried that!” But baseball is a whole other animal. These players go to work every day of the week, from early February to sometimes November. It is a tough physical job. Having to use their whole body in an unnatural way every time they are on the field. Many of these injuries come from the wear and tear on their bodies, over years of playing, going back to when they were Little Leaguers.
With only a few days off from play in a season, they are still at the park for a full day of stretching, running, throwing etc. They will sometimes be at the stadium for treatment or to work with a coach at 11:00 am for a 7:05 game, getting home or back to their hotel at around midnight. That my friends, is a long day at the office.They spend more time at their work place than the average worker in this country. And though they are compensated wonderfully on the Major League level, there are thousands of people in this country who work less and make more. Plus the injuries we get working at a computer are not going to end our careers.
The road to the “Big Show,” is not a pretty picture. Minor league pay and living conditions compared to the big leagues, is Burger King compared Peter Luger’s Steakhouse. They will do almost anything they can to get to the big leagues. Sadly sometimes turning to PEDs or other banned substances to hide or get through injuries, that could hinder their advancement. Consequentially this leads to players not telling their coaches or trainers about injuries, pain or discomfort, for fear of being held back or thought of as not being tough enough to be in the big leagues.
It has been this way since Babe Ruth played and though we live in a world of high tech medical magic today, the stigma of being labeled “an injury prone player,” is always in the head of an athlete. I don’t ever see that changing. As fans, we get frustrated when our players go down. We live in a world where we now need “Fact-Check” sites on the internet to see if someone is really telling us the truth in everything from politics to cooking shows. Our first inkling is to doubt people when they say things that are controversial, or not to our liking. There is doubt in our minds when ever we hear of a player going down to injury. Today we have 24 hour baseball news, where we are hammered over and over again about every little thing that happens on and off the field to our favorite player. How about a short, “He got hurt and can’t play today?”
But there is no doubt that people get angry when they go to a game and don’t get to see their favorite players. Either because of injury, or they need a day to rest. When they get a day off on a game day, fans are disappointed. Like my seven year old granddaughter Molly, who went to Dodger Stadium last Sunday to see her favorite player, Cory Seager on “Cory Seager Bat Day.” Only to find out that he wasn’t playing that day. No injury, just a day off. Why would they rest him on a bat day in his honor? One of the things that makes you think the player, his agent or the team doesn’t care about the fans. That to me is worse than an injury. My granddaughter said “He must have a sore hand from having to sign all those bats.” Aha, the sweet innocence of youth.