8/28/10: Stephen Strasburg, Mr. Murphy And Money

As everyone who watches baseball or any sports broadcast knows, 22 year old Stephen Strasburg, last year’s #1 draft pick, the 22 year old supposed gonna be an ace de la ace forEVAHpitcher, hurt his elbow and has to have an operation and will be out for a year. Even then he may not return to being The Strasburg with the Exciting 100 MPH fastball!!!!!!!! for a year. Or he may be like Lidge and have to slow it down by 10% in order to succeed and who would want to watch him if he threw only 90 instead of 100? Too many people are enthralled by velocity itself and bored by results.

Interesting that so few are saying, well, elbows get hurt, it is how things go. Most are wanting to know why WHY WHY did this happen???!!! The Nationals, as well as his college team, supposedly Did Everything Right – no overuse, no abuse, not making him pitch tired or hurt, etcetcetc. Supposedly, stuff like this didn’t happen BITGOD.

Sure it did. Guys who injured their arms as teens, in the minors or the majors didn’t have the option of tendon replacement surgery, they were just ineffective and out of baseball. I’ve chatted with more than a few guys who were stud pitchers (so they say) in school or college or minors and hurt wrist/arm/shoulder/hip/foot/leg and after repair, just couldn’t play as well – or play at all because they couldn’t/didn’t get it fixed in such a way that they were even the same player after healing/rehab.

There were never, and I mean NEVER tons of pitchers who threw 200-300 innings every year for many years without injuries. If you don’t believe me, go to baseball-reference.com. Pick a team (not the Yankees) and look at the roster in 1930, check the pitchers, games started and innings pitched. Go to 1931, do the same. And every year until 1939. See how many pitchers threw even 200, not 300, innings a year every year for 10 years. Then look at the few who did, and you will see that darn near all of them are in the HOF. And, by the way, check out guys who threw 200+ innings their first year and didn’t make it through the next year – there are plenty of them.

But too many people won’t look at the actual FACTS because they prefer to think that today’s pitchers are effeminate, babied weaklings and BITGOD, ALL pitchers were like Nolan Ryan (who, by the way, WAS injured at age 21 and didn’t start pitching full time until age 25) or Bob Feller or Warren Spahn. Very few guys even lasted 3 straight years in the majors, even though there were only 16 teams and LOTS of minor league teams with some VERY good players who never had much of a chance. And there simply were not as many good hitters (check out teams not named the Yankees from 1920 to 1970) and very few pitchers threw any 95-100 MPH, if any of them did. And if they did, it may have been only for the Ted Williams quality hitters, not the middle infielders. AND remember that guys didn’t take pitches and striking out was a REALLY Terrible “Not Playing The Game The Right Way” Thing and grounding out/popping up was a Good Thing. They swung early and often – you disbelieve me, go watch ESPN classic sometimes, even games from the 70s/80s were incredibly different Before Video. They ALL (except Ted) choked up on the bat after 2 strikes and made every attempt to ground out/popup so they wouldn’t K. And check out the pitches, too – not real too many starters like Verlander. Most guys were a lot more like Moehler/Nelson Figueroa.

 The BITGOD thing is another one of zillions of Garden of Eden fantasies.

But truth is that ANYONE can get injured at ANY time. It could be as simple as just being distracted for a fraction of a second by a runner, a bird in the sky, an itch, planting your foot just a teensy bit wrong, not getting your arm/shoulder/hips/feet aligned just perfect and when you make your body move in a destructive, unnatural way, and you don’t have everything perfectly timed, well, it sure nuff is easy to tear something if you put the wrong kind of stress on something. Heck, I’ve read about guys who have injured themselves by SNEEZING.

These days, seems us people all insist that If You Do “Everything Right” Then Nothing Can Go Wrong. And if something does, SOMEONE is to blame, and there HAS to be a reason other than Murphy’s Law (if something can go wrong, it will go wrong) and Mr/Ms Murphy shows up at the darndest places and the darndest times. Sometimes stuff happens for which there is no particular reason and there is no one to BLAME and there is no FAULT. Stuff happens. Bad Luck exists. It just does. Life is not predictable the way people think it should be. Sometimes, you just happen to be in the right place at the right time. Sometimes you just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and there IS no fault.

People have different DNA and even with athletes with special DNA which gives them unbelieveable eyesight and hand-eye coordination (just think – from less than 60 feet away you can spot a red spot on a round object traveling at least 80 MPH and not only that, you can react so incredibly fast that you can swing a thin stick and hit that 5″ diameter ball. I doubt that most people could hit an object with the kind of motion and speed a ML pitch haws if the object was 2′ wide…) And for whatever reason, those people’s tendons and bones and muscles are just the littlest bit different from each others and so some large strong (like that makes a difference) males are as fragile as china dolls and some males just never seem to get hurt.

And Strasburg (and the Nats and the Strasburg fans) just interacted with Mr/Ms Murphy.

I get so tired of all the incessant comments about how Strasburg SHOULD have been fine because he is SOOOOOOOOO big. Really. And the reason small guys like Maddux and Glavine pitched for 20 years without getting hurt or going on the DL is, um, well, uh. “Large” does not keep anyone off the DL. “Large” is another one of those myths that will NOT die. There is exactly NO difference in injury rate of pitchers of different sizes/weights. People simply believe that bigger = better and no amount of icky FACTS gonna change their beliefs.

And, subject 2, everyone is now screaming that it is SUCH a terrible thing that the Nats paid 15 mill to Strasburg to sign him and now they are gonna lose a year. OR maybe more!!!!!

I see.

So are those self same people gonna start screaming that if the Nats had picked him in the 30th round, paid him a sack of chewing gum and he had turned into a Super Ace that they should pay him like a Super Ace and not the minimum league payment for 3 straight years? Please.

Same thing with any free agent they sign. You can sign a guy who never had a headache and first week out, he sneezes, throws out his shoulder or ribs, or whatever, bends over conks his head and that’s the end. OR he’s minding his own business and suddenly one of those baseball shoving matches breaks out and someone falls all over him and he gets a knee in the face and is out concussed forever.

youneverknow. you REALLY never know.

Teams gamble that they will make money off the player and the player gambles that he will make money off the team (except for Gary Sheffield who was constantly griping that he should be paid more and never offered to refund money if he didn’t live up to expectations – imagine that) but a whole lot of people, especially media types, use Strasburg to point out how the draft “is broken” because the Nats are losing a year of Strasburg. I don’t see them pointing out how Evan Longoria who was a hitting stud from the word GO is and was the most underpaid player in MLB, given his accomplishments, and that he will most likely never ever be paid anything like his true worth.

But that is fine because a whole lot of people really think that professional ballplayers SHOULD be paid like minor leaguers and have to do crappy jobs in the offseason to eat. Or live off their parents/rich women. Or something. They have no problem with ownership making 130 mill a year instead of 30 mill a year. They have this silly fantasy that seat prices are related to the payroll, which is why you see all the low payroll teams selling their seats at 1980 prices, right? That and the fact that they resent the fact that professional athletes get paid a lot of money when they themselves could do the same for FREE. Which explains why minor league games draw hundreds of thousands per game, unlike MLB.

If people really think that professional athletes should ONLY be paid according to performance, and shouldn’t get a penny if they get hurt, then they should be paid HUGE sums per year if they excel, right? Seeing as how they shouldn’t have contracts guaranteed (how is an unguaranteed “contract” a “contract” at all? If one party doesn’t have to adhere to it, why does the other party? Sounds like BITGOD where men got to cheat on their wives and that was fine and dandy, but the wife didn’t get to cheat on her husband, even though they took the same vows of monogamy…)

So if you want to change drafts so that athletes get some small “slot”bonus to keep them from playing some other sport or not playing at all, then you also have to change the pay structure and pay them according to their true value on the field, which should be a premeasured, agreed upon percent of the team’s moneys received – and this has to include baserunning and fielding, not just hitting, or BA/RBI). which means that a guy who comes up and hits like Albert Pujols did his first year should be paid like a 10 year star, not a league minimum AND should receive what SHOULD have been his slot bonus too, right?

What, you don’t like that neither?

Gee, what a surprise…

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10 Responses to “8/28/10: Stephen Strasburg, Mr. Murphy And Money”

  1. wags says:

    So size doesn’t matter. (first thing I noticed)

    We guys just look at the baseball players on the big screen, doing things we did when we were kids, albeit a little better than we were, but we’re jealous. They’re making scads of money (because they were offered scads of money) to play an easy game. Their earning days are relatively short, thus the explanation that they deserve what they get. Heck, they deserve whatever anyone will pay them.

    The only problem I have with salaries is that as soon as I get to like and appreciate a player, he prices himself out of my team’s market. For quite a while, that didn’t happen with Drayton’s Astros, with his admirable wish to keep a franchise player for the extent of his major league career.

    In my opinion, McMullen’s treatment of Nolan Ryan after the 1988 season was directly responsible for Ryan’s current successful run with the Rangers, and the regrettable (to me) change in affiliation of the Round Rock Express from the Astros to his organization.

  2. sceptor says:

    The only problem i have is that with many a players getting BIG long term contracts with much guarantee money is that once they get it so many never play well enough afterwards that they don’t deserve it or earn it. The hunger and drive is gone.
    You may tend to differ from me , but i then can go and get you a large list of the players i am talking about.

  3. sceptor says:

    I did check back on some pitchers back in 1930′s and thou i did’nt find tons of them i found quite a few in a small sample that may have not pitched over 200 innings for 10 straight years, but did maybe pitch over 200 ip in 7-9 years out of 10 and were not HOF. many of those were in the high 200′s and a few over 300 IP. some that missed there 200 to make their 10 years straight fell a little short with maybe pitching 190 plus that year or 2 they missed.
    You realize that not all these pitchers back then left the game cause they could do it any longer or ruined their arms, but because of finacial reasons as they did’t get paid much money back then.

  4. Lisa Gray says:

    wags,

    the reason that nolan got back with the rangers is that he wanted to RUN an Organization and drayton didn’t want to turn his club over to anyone and then step back – if he’s gonna get out, he’s gonna get paid. if he had given nolan what he got when nolan became “team president” with the rangers he would have had to get rid of tal and anyone nolan wanted gone and let nolan do things HIS way. it’s not that he let nolan “get away” or made things so unpleasant he left.

    sceptor,
    the LONG contracts used to be almost exclusively given to guys after their first 6 years in the majors, meaning that they were almost always pretty close to 30 – which means they would have to keep production at age 30 level to be valuable. but some long term contracts were fully worth it -
    examples
    - manny ramirez’ 8 year deal – he was worth every penny all 8 years
    - biggio’s deal (5 years)
    - alex rodriguez’ FIRST 7 year deal (the second 10 year deal was too stupid for words)
    - roy-o’s deal (and if drayton hadn’t been such a damm tightwad he could have done it the year before for a LOT less money)
    - evan longoria/ryan braun’s deals – they have already paid for themselves even if both players never played another inning from right now

    the REALLY bad ones are the guys who got hurt – like mike hampton – but there is no way you can convince me he lost any hunger or drive

  5. sceptor says:

    Lisa

    How about these players; A. Soriano, B. Zito. T. Glaus, JD Drew, Carlos Lee, Vernon Wells, Brando Inge, Vernon Wells. Most of these guys have been regressing and i don’t think are near worth what they are now making.
    Also injuries are a part of the game and is another reason why maybe players especially pitchers should not get such outragious long term salaries.
    There are more examples of players if we search further.

  6. Lisa Gray says:

    neil

    LOL

    sceptor,
    agree about sori
    zito had a rotten first 3 years
    glaus is on a 1 year deal
    drew – well, he is worth it and he isn’t declining
    clank is suddenly hitting his career numbers this august – but i don’t think he shoulda been apid anything like what he was – but drayton really really wanted him so bad he wouldn’t think straight
    vernon wells was hurt last year, but he’s back to his old self – and he WAS overpaid because toronto wanted a “frnachise” guy, no one wants to play there and so they HAVE to overpay any star FA

    and i agree that it is pretty silly to give pitchers long contracts because you really can’t get much of any $$$ on ins if they get hurt

  7. sceptor says:

    Lisa
    Also C. Zambrano is another that has not come close to being what that are paying him, and i am still not convinced A.J. Burnett is earning his hugh salary.

  8. sceptor says:

    Look at Drew’s numbers closer and i would say he has been declining and he is almost 35 years old. Lance Berkman another example as of the last 2 or so years.

  9. Lisa Gray says:

    burnett hasn’t earned that kind of salary – and the yankeez KNEW he was like that, but they don’t care

    as for zambrano
    well, not real too sure what happened there besides the cubs looking for their usual fall guy and big Z starting out the year a little shaky. you talk about an emotional guy… but he got a LOT of time to recover – and he’s not hurt, mostly all shook up…

    checked JD drew -
    hard to believe he’s as old as he is – seems it was yesterday he told the phils to suck eggs
    he really didn’t decline until this year and the redsox KNEW they were getting a guy who would sit out if he didn’t feel exactly right – i think he’s only got one more year left, so he might could step it up his contract year

    lance was more than fine until he hurt his leg last year – he just has NOT been the same since
    he almost made it – and he was more than worth every penny until this, his last year – i wouldn’t really call him a good example of a bad contract

  10. sceptor says:

    lisa

    yes you are right about berkman, he has been worth all that he has had on his contract. I still hope he makes a good comeback next season. He deserves it.