Freak vs. Foolish Injuries

No, it wasn't happy news that Mets relief ace Edwin Diáz is going to miss the 2023 season after tearing his patellar tendon celebrating Puerto Rico's World Baseball Classic win. (Diáz and teammates whooped it up after beating the Dominican Republic to advance to the WBC quarterfinals.) But no, this does not exactly fall under the heading of Incredibly Stupid Injuries By Guys Who Ought to Know Better.

Further: I'd be all-in on shifting the WBC to a time of year when baseball players are in better shape to compete. Mets pitcher Max Scherzer thinks it might supplant the All-Star Game entirely and enable a full week's worth of a mid-year break. That might be worth a look, if you can get past teams having similar concerns about their stars adding wear and maybe injuries as the stretch drive approaches. Might.

Meanwhile, the WBC means something to every player who signed up for it, whether representing MLB's home country or representing their own home countries. They're putting it on the line for the sort of honour that escapes the like of Keith Olbermann with his insouciantly sexist conclusion: the WBC is a meaningless exhibition series designed to: get YOU to buy another uniform, to hell with the real season, and split up teammates based on where their grandmothers got laid.

Diáz is also not the only one who went in, either, on a fresh or potential delicious multi-year, nine-figure deal. That's how many millions Shohei Ohtani figures to make when he hits the market this fall, assuming the Angels decide to let him walk all the way into someone else's arms?

You think Diáz tearing his patellar celebrating a key win is dumb at all, never mind the worst of the dumb? You sure don't know the real history of incredibly foolish injuries. Diáz's was a freak injury. It could have happened at a family wedding during some particularly exuberant whooping-it-up. It could have happened walking out to his car from the mall. He wasn't even a hundredth as foolish as the following roll of baseball players and their incredibly weird injuries:

Bite Me Dept. — 1923: Nondescript pitcher Clarence Bethen put his false teeth into his hip pocket, thinking he looked meaner on the mound when they were out. His lifetime 7.32 ERA thinks otherwise. But in one game he actually hit a double, slide hard into second — and took a bite in the butt from the pocketed choppers.

CONCLUSION: That wasn't what they meant by putting your teeth into your work. (What was Bethen expecting when he pulled up at second — an immediate corned beef on rye with mustard?)

Jim and Jill Went Down the Hill Dept. — 1967: Cy Young Award-winning Red Sox pitcher Jim Lonborg went skiing after the season. That's where he suffered the torn left knee ligaments that cost him half the 1968 season and left him far less than the pitcher he was in 1967. It's said Lonborg's companion on that trip was actress Jill St. John, of whom he may or may not have been in hot pursuit down the slope.

CONCLUSION: Well, nobody could blame anyone for giving a Jill St. John hot pursuit. Except maybe Lonborg's manager, Dick Williams, who probably took it as a) a devastating loss going into 1968; and, b) a personal affront to himself. Not necessarily in that order.

(Lonborg's happy ending: he became a respected New England dentist after his pitching career ended, retiring from practice in 2017.)

Chumpionship Ring Dept. — 1970: Braves closer Cecil Upshaw thought demonstrating his slam dunk technique by way of an awning on the street was a clever idea ... until it cost him the entire season, after his ring got caught in it and he damaged ligaments in his hand.

CONCLUSION: Leave the slamming dunks to the ones who get paid to do them. The ones who wear NBA or WNBA underwear.

Take Him Out of the Ball Game Dept. — 1983: On an off day for the Royals, Hall of Famer George Brett broke his toe running from ... his kitchen to his living room, to continue watching a Cubs game, specifically to see his buddy Bill Buckner hit.

CONCLUSION: That was a foolish idea no matter whom Brett couldn't bear not to see at the plate.

Rolling Blunder Dept. — 1985: Vince Coleman, the Cardinals' road running base thief, got his foot caught in a tarp-rolling machine at Busch Stadium before Game Four of the National League Championship Series. Incurring a bone chip in his knee and a foot bruise, Coleman — who set a rookie record for stolen bases that year — was stopped for the rest of that postseason.

CONCLUSION: It's a lot safer to put your foot in your mouth. (Coleman did, a few times during his major league career.) But, seriously, this, too, was more of a freak accident than Vincent Van Go deciding to challenge a tarp roller to a footrace.

Cowboy Down Dept. — 1986: Hall of Famer Wade Boggs once missed a week with a back strain suffered when ... pulling on a pair of cowboy boots. This gave pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps a bad name.

CONCLUSION: Easy does it.

Oh, What a Mangled Web Dept. — 1990: Then-Blue Jays outfielder Glenallen Hill fell out of bed and right into a glass table — suffering bruises and cuts on elbows, knees, and legs — as he ... awoke violently from a nightmare about spiders.

CONCLUSION: Calling your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man...

Ice, Ice, Baby Dept. — 1993: Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson fell asleep with an ice bag on his foot ... and the Man of Steal suffered a nasty case of frostbite, which froze him out of three August games.

CONCLUSION: There's more than one reason not to doze off during a game.

Sorry, Wrong Number Dept. — 1994: Relief pitcher Steve Sparks once thought that just because a motivational speaker he'd seen could rip a thick phone book in half he could do it — until his dislocated shoulder told him, "No, you can't."

CONCLUSION: Don't believe everything you see.

Bed Sore Dept. — 2002: Outfielder Marty Cordova once suffered a bad sunburn across his face ... on a tanning bed.

CONCLUSION: Tan, don't burn, get a Coppertone tan.

Oh, Deer! Dept. — 2005: Promising Rockies rook Clint Barmes was given some choice deer meat by elder teammate Todd Helton. The venison won the battle when its weight caused Barmes to fall and break his collarbone. He went from leading National League rookies in most offensive categories to journeyman after recovering.

CONCLUSION: Presume that Bambi isn't exactly one of Barmes's favorite films.

Pie in the Sky Dept. — 2010: Marlins utility man Chris Coghlan tore the meniscus in his left knee when ... he fell while trying to smoosh a pie in the face of Wes Helms, who'd just won a game for the Fish with a game-ending bases-loaded single.

CONCLUSION: It might have been a good thing Helms didn't win it with a grand slam — Coghlan might have been tempted to try hitting him with a whole bakery truck.

Honey, I Forgot to Look Dept. — 2012: Jonathan Lucroy reached under his bed for a sock and didn't see his wife fiddling with suitcases on the bed. One of the suitcases fell over the bed and onto Lucroy's hand. He hit the disabled list after trying but failing to hide that he couldn't grip his bat properly.

CONCLUSION: Look out above.

Baggage Claim Dept. — Royals catcher Salvador Perez punished his knees enough in thousands of squats behind the plate without blowing the opening of the 2018 season when he suffered a torn medial collateral ligament in his knee ... while carrying a heavy suitcase up some steps.

CONCLUSION: There are reasons Mr. Otis invented the (ahem) safety elevator.

Now you tell me what's worse or what's less responsible — a freak accident while celebrating a tournament win? Or, blowing a season showing on the street that you could have busted a backboard any old time you chose?

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