Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game…Without Getting Injured in a Bizarre Fashion?
I finally figured out how Cal Ripken Jr. managed to play 2,632 consecutive games for the Orioles. Evidently he didn’t wrestle his dog, take his kids shopping or shovel his driveway during the streak. “The Iron Man” was fortunate to stay relatively healthy, but he was also smart enough not to leave anything to chance.
Spring training this year has been a daily catalog of the bizarre, as one player after another goes down with an embarrassing injury. Gio Gonzalez got a rugburn on his forehead from wrestling with his dog, but that pales in comparison to Elvis Andrus. The Rangers shortstop had to sit out when he developed muscle soreness from a large tattoo he had inked on his arm. The only thing saving him from additional scorn is the fact that the tattoo was a likeness of his late father. Andrus is not the first player to be sidelined by a tattoo. Pitcher Jeff Juden missed a start in 1994 after his tattoo caused an infection.
Also this spring, Angels reliever Sean Burnett hurt his back as he was trying to place his 4-year-old son in a shopping cart. Maybe his son is built like a sumo wrestler, but perhaps Burnett should leave the shopping to his wife. The same day Casey Kotchman of the Marlins cut his hand on the pop-up machine while trying to catch a pop-up near home plate.
Two free-agent pitchers suffered misfortune over the winter. Carl Pavano nearly died from a ruptured spleen while shoveling his driveway, which is no laughing matter. However, this is the same player who bruised his buttocks while pitching in a spring training game for the Yankees in 2006, then later that year broke two ribs after wrecking his Porsche while entertaining a swimsuit model. Any team that signs him in the future might want to invest in a bubble in which to place him.
Then there’s the strange case of Francisco Liriano. Evidently there is a very unusual Christmas tradition in the Liriano household. The southpaw hurler slammed his non-throwing arm into a door on Christmas Day while trying to startle his kids. Hey, doesn’t everyone try to scare their kids on Christmas? At least he had the good sense to not slam his throwing arm in the door. Liriano had just agreed to a free-agent contract with the Pirates but had not yet signed it, so his ill-conceived stunt did turn out quite scary—it cost him $11 million in guaranteed money.
Also over the winter, Red Sox minor league outfielder Bryce Bentz accidentally shot himself in the leg while trying to clean his gun. Maybe he should be traded to the Cubs, where he can compare gunshot scars with Manager Dale Sveum, who was accidentally shot in the ear and back by Hall of Famer Robin Yount during a quail hunt.
The weird injuries are not confined to players. Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman recently broke his leg and dislocated his ankle after landing on the ground following a tandem skydive. After seeing the Yankees’ lack of activity this offseason, there were probably some fans in New York who wanted to break both of Cashman’s legs.
It was just a year ago when Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain dislocated his ankle while bouncing on a trampoline with his son. I don’t know, maybe he was being chased by midges.
It’s those darn kids that keep causing their baseball-playing fathers to get injured. Moises Alou injured his knee in 1999 in an unusual manner—he fell off his treadmill. After diligently rehabbing the injury, Alou was almost ready to return when he re-injured the knee after running over his son with a bicycle. I hope they both were wearing helmets.
You could fill a book with all the bizarre tales of player injuries through the years. Steve Sparks dislocated his shoulder while trying to rip a telephone book in half. With the world going electronic that should be an injury of the past.
Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya missed three playoff games in 2006 because he played so much Guitar Hero that his wrist and forearm became inflamed. Did we mention this occurred during the playoffs? Just another reason why there shouldn’t be so many days off in the playoff schedule.
Jeff Kent broke his wrist from falling down while washing his truck, while Wade Boggs managed to injure himself putting on cowboy boots. Don’t star players have people who can take care of menial tasks for them like washing cars and helping them put on their boots?
You would think baseball players spend enough time in the sun to work up a nice tan. That wasn’t the case for Marty Cordova, who got a severe sunburn after falling asleep in a tanning bed.
Adam Eaton missed a start in 2001 after accidentally stabbing himself with a paring knife while trying to open a DVD box. Sure hope it was a good movie.
Bret Barberie was forced to miss a game after accidentally rubbing chili juice in his eye, which is a better story than the one concocted by Chris Brown. The Giants third baseman once asked to sit out because he strained his eyelid from sleeping on his eye in a funny way. Is there a way to sleep on your eye other than funny?
Pitchers keep finding hilarious ways to injure their arms. Greg Harris injured his shoulder from flicking sunflower seeds into the bleachers while sitting in the Texas bullpen. Dennis Martinez threw his arm out while chucking his luggage onto the team bus. Steve Foster hurt his shoulder knocking over milk bottles during a segment with Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show.” I hope they at least gave him a big stuffed animal.
Ryan Klesko of the Braves managed to pull a muscle while picking up his lunch tray. Then there’s Tom Glavine, who once broke two ribs from vomiting in an airplane after the in-flight meal didn’t agree with him. Must be he was sampling the food they serve back in coach.
Glavine’s former teammate on the Braves, John Smoltz, burned his chest in an embarrassing fashion. He tried to iron his shirt while still wearing it. That’s why A-Rod has his cousin Yuri do all his ironing.
Giants manager Roger Craig admitted to suffering a serious cut on his hand from a bra strap. We are assuming the bra was being worn by a woman at the time, hopefully his wife, but nothing would surprise us. A baseball manager probably cannot get worker’s comp for that type of injury, but it’s surprising that Craig didn’t come up with a less embarrassing story for his injury.
Florida pitcher Randy Veres injured his hand pounding on a hotel room wall trying to get the inconsiderate people in the next room to quiet down. No word on whether he screamed so loud in pain that the people in the room next door complained.
Rickey Henderson missed a game with the Blue Jays because of frostbite. Hey, we all know it gets cold up in Canada. Only problem—the game was in August.
Baltimore outfielder Mark Smith was hurt when he stuck his hand in an air conditioner to see why it wasn’t working properly. Thank god it wasn’t wintertime or he would have been checking on the furnace. Freddie Fitzsimmons had a mishap while sleeping in a rocking chair. He managed to crush his fingers underneath the chair while rocking.
Glenallen Hill had a notorious case of arachnophobia—he was deathly afraid of spiders. As the story goes, once while sleeping on a couch, Hill started having nightmares about spiders attacking him. In a frantic attempt to flee the imaginary spiders, Hill thrashed around and ended up landing hard on a glass coffee table, which caused hundreds of glass shards to be embedded into his skin. Hey, some folks are freaked out by clowns while others can’t deal with spiders. Who are we to judge?