Welcome to the twelfth edition of Around the Horn, a recurring op-ed with a satirical slant that riffs on whatever’s recently noteworthy in baseball. Think of it as a stripped down Last Week Tonight or Daily Show in a column format with recurring segments about the good, bad, and ugly in the world of America’s pastime. Additionally, as often as possible, we’ll end with an interview as well.
There’s a lot to discuss, so let’s get right to our first segment:
Our Main Story
Father’s Day weekend always brings a wonderful vibe around the game of baseball. After a few weeks of reflective topics in this space, ranging from domestic violence in the game to expanding netting to protect fans from harm, we’re going to take a lighter detour this week, and we have Carlos Correa to thank for it.
Houston #Astros SS Carlos Correa explaining his injury in a statement: ‘I sustained the rib fracture during a massage at my home on Tuesday. To sustain an injury in such an unusual way makes it even more frustrating.’
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) May 29, 2019
Correa’s injury is not breaking news, but the nature of it demands a discussion. Mind you, the intention here is not to mock Correa. Massage therapy is mostly a safe form of treatment, but there are risks and side effects to deep-tissue massage.
That being said, I feel confident saying Correa’s injury is the most bizarre in baseball history.
There have been a lot of strange but true injuries in baseball, and I’m saying none more so than what happened to Correa recently.
Don’t believe me?
Let’s take a look at some of the strangest reasons players landed on the DL…er, IL. Whatever.
We’ll start with Correa, who went out of his way to try to explain his unfortunate circumstances by inviting us all into his living room.
Carlos Correa talks about injury, with fiance Daniella Rodriguez, on her YouTube channel. He details how a masseuse broke his rib, and they refute internet rumors about how injury occurred.
"We're going to stay positive and focus on the rehab," he said.https://t.co/r5ZUVA2TnA
— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) May 31, 2019
Fair enough, but the fact remains, Correa was literally at rest. He wasn’t doing anything. He wasn’t performing any type of activity.
I know what you’re going to say…Glenallen Hill was at rest, too, Paul. After all, what’s more “at rest” than literally asleep, you fool?
This Carlos Correa rib injury resulting from a massage is bizarre. Believe it or not it pales in comparison to Glenallen Hill's infamous DL stint back in 1990. He fell through a glass table after stumbling through his home trying to escape spiders in a nightmare. #MLB #Astros
— Kyle Reese (@KyIeReese) May 29, 2019
You know, I do wonder what that dream looked like in Hill’s head. Probably something like this:
OK, think about it, though. Hill was at rest, but people are startled by nightmares all the time. In fact, nightmares can be terrifying, as I’m sure you know. And physical injury is a real possibility. Trust me, I know from personal experience.
One time, I passed out with my arm draped around my neck. That somehow led to me dreaming of snakes, one of which naturally slithered across my neck (or so my mind perceived). In a panic, I woke up and threw the snake (my arm) off my neck with reckless abandon…right into the wall beside my bed, spraining my own finger in the process. I was so embarrassed, I resolved never to tell anyone about the incident. I’ve kept it a secret all this time, and I’ll continue to do so. Just you watch!
Anyhow, the point is, some of us can empathize with Hill’s plight. Thankfully, Glenallen Hill has conquered his fear of spiders, so I suppose now we can all remember him fondly for his “shoes” apparently:
Former Oriole, Marty Cordova, famously had to declare himself unavailable for day games after he fell asleep in a tanning booth, burning his face. Doctor’s orders mandated Cordova stay out of the sun until the burn healed. I don’t know what’s more ridiculous—that he only had to miss day games or that he was concerned with his tan in the middle of a baseball season.
Yes, Cordova was also “at rest,” but he was also being subjected to an artificial heat source, and one that quite frankly, even skin cancer researchers agree tanning beds pose a legitimate health risk. I mean, seriously, have you met the kind of people who use these things on a regular basis?
So, as bizarre as Cordova’s injury was, he didn’t miss more than a month, and he wasn’t at rest while undergoing a therapeutic process that is literally designed for healing like Correa and his massage. Cordova’s foolishness was the product of his own vanity.
Though, admittedly, it is fascinating to think what a Glenallen Hill tanning-bed nightmare would look like. It probably looks something like this:
Yeah, horrifying. Now you get it. Hill gets a pass, people!
One could argue that Rickey Henderson getting frostbite in 1993 after leaving a bag of ice on his foot too long comes close, but even then, Ricky only missed three games, and since he often referred to himself in the third person, one could also argue it was someone else that left the ice on his foot in the first place. T’was Ricky who done Ricky wrong.
Another argument could be made for Vince Coleman, who was literally steamrolled by an automatic tarpaulin while stretching on the field prior to Game 4 of the 1985 NLCS.
I mean, one minute you’re stretching during batting practice before a playoff game, wondering if the rain will delay the game, thinking about how not even the Flash can say he stole 110 bases that year to win the NL Rookie of the Year, and the next, your leg is busted when you discover you can’t outrun killer tarp moving at a glacial pace, seemingly hell-bent on devouring you. The injury to Coleman’s leg healed, but the wound to his pride likely never will.
And yet, the rolling tarp clearly constitutes a hazard to anyone in its way, unlike the soothing hands of a massage therapist.
There are others, but they all pale in comparison to the extended absence facing Correa. Steve Sparks dislocating his shoulder trying to rip a telephone book in half can be attributed to idiocy. Sammy Sosa‘s back spasm-inducing sneezes couldn’t be helped. Clint Barmes probably isn’t the first man to crumble under the weight of Todd Helton‘s deer meat. Joel Zumaya only missed three games for injuring his wrist trying to pull off Guitar Hero solo (and he was allegedly already hurt from throwing a bullpen earlier).
No, Correa was getting a massage, folks. He was enjoying the one thing literally all of us would love to get any time something hurts. And Correa got hurt doing it.
Let’s hope he comes back as soon as he’s able to rejoin Houston’s exciting young core.
Out of the Park
A Look Beyond the Boxscores for the Best in Baseball This Week
History is always fun to celebrate. Shohei Ohtani becoming the first Japanese player to hit for the cycle definitely constitutes history made:
Cycle raker, history maker. pic.twitter.com/43Wjni6gzq
— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) June 14, 2019
For some fans, the cycle amounts to little more than a curious trifle. A happenstance of balls falling where they may. For others, it’s a rare and tremendous feat, even if it’s not necessarily something a player actively tries to do.
More than anything, Ohtani reminded all of us that he’s capable of spectacle. It will be a while longer before baseball fans are treated with Ohtani on the mound again. Until then, you can regale others with tales of his bat.
Where Baseball Got Caught Looking
Surprise! We’re talking about throwing at people in this space…again. Now, wait, wait, wait. Hold on. Before you go distract yourself with Nick Pollack’s list on the right-hand side of this op-ed (unless you’re viewing this in mobile, and that All State clickbait ad is too tempting to refuse), take a look at this first. It’s not what you think it is (me, bitching about dudes who throw at other dudes in service of some “unwritten rule”) :
Josh Donaldson and Joe Musgrove get into it.
Both were ejected after this skirmish, which began when Donaldson was hit by a pitch.pic.twitter.com/ufHfBIiku7
— Sporting News MLB (@sn_mlb) June 10, 2019
Forget the jawing, pushing, and shoving. Did you see the inning? It was the bottom of the first inning. Home plate umpire Brian Gorman tossed Josh Donaldson and Joe Musgrove, as well as Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle for arguing Musgrove’s ejection, in the bottom of the first inning. That might go down as the most ridiculous ejection of the season.
Even Musgrove’s teammate, Jameson Taillon, felt the need to speak out:
Ump Show. @MLB, Clean it up. Joe prepares harder than anyone, and you just took away his start day. No accountability. The pen is messed up for the series now. Guys will get sent down because they will have to eat these innings. Unbelievable.
— Jameson Taillon (@JTaillon19) June 10, 2019
It’s 2019, and Taillon was ejected for that tweet.
The “Ump Show” is clearly a problem, and one MLB should get serious about addressing. You can’t go tossing a guy for that in the first inning, especially not a starting pitcher. Had there been a series of beanings between the two teams the night before, that would be different.
Look, if Gorman felt something was brewing, then he should have issued warnings after that pitch, or better yet, before the game even started. I’ve already written about umpires coming under fire across the league. Holding umpires accountable seems like a step baseball should take.
OK, there are a few slo-mo close-ups of spin rates and pitch types leaving a pitcher’s hand online, and usually, it’s a visual contrasting two different pitches at similar release points.
However, it’s a real treat when our very own Michael Augustine lets us watch three amigos instead of just two:
Slider- 79.7 MPH, 2651 RPM (295-degree axis)
Four-seam- 94.7, 2567 RPM (122-degree axis)
Changeup- 83.2, 1682 RPM (83-degree axis) pic.twitter.com/NvO7xBvWFQ
— Michael Augustine (@AugustineMLB) June 11, 2019
Just…nasty. Would you say Chris Sale has a plethora of nasty pitches at his disposal?
That’s the ballgame for this week!
(Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire)