The Real Problem with Fake Injuries
Last night I was in Pittsburgh to take in a battle between the Pirates and Braves. Going into last nights games the Braves had a game up on the Phillies in the NL East race while the Pirates, who were coming off a walk off win against the Cubs on Sunday, are trying to stay in the hunt for a wild card spot. The Pirates sent freshly acquired Chris Archer to the hill against Bryse Wilson, a 20 year old kid making his major league debut.
As a Red Sox fan, I've never really liked Chris Archer. He's a hypocrite, calling out David Ortiz (the best DH of all time) for admiring a home run, saying that "its more than just him" but yet this same guy can be seen jumping around the mound and kissing his bicep after striking out Daniel Nava. It left a bad taste in my mouth but I digress.
These same antics were on display last night at PNC Park. Archer pitched only 4 innings, giving up a run, five hits and a walk. He threw 76 pitches but only 50 strikes. Being in the right field bleachers it felt like the Braves were teeing off. It seemed like every ball in play was ripped. Archer left the game after the fourth with left leg discomfort as a precaution.
In Archer's only at bat, he was taking Daddy hacks. He fouled off a few pitches before striking out. I can respect that, but what got me fired up was him jumping around the mound after not getting a strike call. In 2018 Archer isn't good enough to be doing that stuff, with a record of 4-6 and an ERA well over 4 hes gotta respect the game a little bit. After all this he ends up getting hurt, which is where my issue lies.
When I saw "Chris Archer has left tonight's game with left leg discomfort" come across the left field scoreboard I thought it was an ad for 7/11 Cheeseburgers because in either situation, i'm not buying it. Why can't managers hold these stars accountable? Why cant they say so and so just didn't have it tonight or just admit that they are struggling? Instead teams make up fake injuries to maybe save an option or to not embarrass the player or whatever other reason teams can come up with and frankly i'm tired of it.
One fake injury that stands out is Gary Sanchez. On July 23rd Sanchez infamously didn't hustle down the line against the Rays with the bases loaded down 1 run in the top of the ninth. Sanchez grounded into the shift behind second base, the Rays originally tried to get Aaron Hicks on the force play at second but was safe. Should've been great until Gary Sanchez was thrown out at first by at least 3 steps. But that wasn't the only time Gary Sanchez' lack of hustle cost the Yankees that night. Earlier in the game, on a passed ball, Gary Sanchez lackadaisically jogged down the third base line to get the ball. Jake Bauers would score from second on this play. FROM SECOND! ON A PASSED BALL! IN THE MAJORS! To top it all off, this happened with two outs in the first inning. Unacceptable. Sanchez would be placed on the DL with a pulled hamstring.
I have no doubt in my mind that if Joe Girardi was the manager, he would have pulled Sanchez after that and had him on a flight to Scranton by the time Austin Romine put his mask on to take over. But hes not. The Yankees canned Girardi in favor of Aaron Boone because Girardi is too tough on these young guys like Sanchez.
All I am asking if for the Yankees to call a spade a spade here. Sanchez STINKS this year. He is batting .188 in 279 at bats. People may say but he has 14 home runs. Yeah that's nice, he also plays in Yankee Stadium. But what about his cannon of an arm? Again nice attribute but hes lazy defensively, always has been. No arm can make up for letting a runner score from second base on a ball that hit the catchers foot. But I think Sanchez will wake up. He will figure this stuff out, he is only 25. I just want people to admit that he is not good this year, admit that this DL stint is to figure things out at the plate or for lack of hustle. Not a pulled hamstring. Feed that to someone else.
Two other people on my list are Chris Sale and Rafeal Devers. Chris Sale is back on the DL with shoulder inflammation but has admitted that he would be pitching if the AL East race was tighter. Last year he was terrible in the playoffs because John Farrell rode him like Seabiscuit and got him a useless milestone. My bigger issue is with Rafeal Devers. The fact that he goes on the DL with a strained hamstring the day Ian Kinsler gets activated is just a little to convenient for my liking. In the two series against the Orioles and Phillies the week leading up to his "pulled hamstring" he went 2-18 in those six games which dropped his average to .242 on the year. I need more from the hot corner .242 with 16 home runs and 55 RBIs just doesn't cut it. I think like Sanchez, a young kid like Devers just needs some time to break out of his slump in AAA but at least he hustles.
The main reason why I believe that these injuries are fake are that leg discomfort, pulled hamstrings, and shoulder inflammation cant be proven. No MRI, no x-rays to prove if its a real injury. The other reason is that all of these guys with the exception of Chris Sale are having down years, its too easy to blame things on injuries. I guess I just need a baseball version of John Tortorella to tell it how it is. Say players are slumping, say they stink, call them out for not hustling. Its really not a lot to ask for.