American League Weekly Wrap-Up: Injuries and Ignorance
The MLB season is rolling right along as we are already into the first week of May.
The AL East has dominated headlines of late with the red-hot Yankees and standout rookie Aaron Judge. The Orioles and Red Sox feud has escalated to the point of commissioner involvement and the Blue Jays are the first team to 20 losses.
The Central is a tightly contested race with the Indians only ahead of the next three teams by two wins or less. The West is still the Astros and everyone else, although the angels continue to surprise by holding onto second place.
The divisional standings are starting to take shape, but unfortunately it’s been the negative news that’s been front and center. The recent rash of injuries and nonsense in the AL East has certainly created an interesting news cycle, and provides the focus of the wrap-up today.
An Apple a Day Keeps the DL Away
The number of injuries this season has been staggering. Corey Kluber, James Paxton, J.A. Happ and Tyler Skaggs are just a few of the recent additions.
The laundry list of critical rotation pieces who have suffered early season stints on the disabled list continues to grow. Position players have certainly had their fair share of injuries, but it appears pitching staffs have felt the greatest impact.
Preseason speculation regarding the disabled list duration rule change predicted an uptick in DL stints, but not this many. The reduction of the 15-day duration was intended to give teams additional roster flexibility. Furthermore, the rule change wouldn’t penalize players and teams as harshly for taking needed rest to prevent injury. The rule change certainly worked.
Soreness, tightness and inflammation have been some of the most commonly cited ailments plaguing the league this season. Questions have begun to arise as to whether or not teams are taking advantage of the new system. This isn’t to say players don’t have legitimate injuries, but the new duration has clearly lowered the barrier.
The impact to the team of losing a key lineup piece hasn’t changed. However, the potential of key rotation members to only miss one start as opposed to multiple may help explain the rash of trips to the DL. It will be interesting the monitor the usage of this system throughout the season and if the league addresses the topic after the season ends.
Ignorance in the East
There hasn’t been much good to come out the most recent matchups between the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles. In the last few weeks, we’ve seen fans hurling peanuts and racial slurs followed by players hurling pitches at each other.
The Adam Jones incident has sparked a great deal of discussion around the league and rightfully so. While it’s truly unfortunate anyone has to endure that type of shameful behavior, it has put a renewed focus on how organizations handle this type of behavior.
The conversation on how teams manage fan behavior will continue to evolve. It was encouraging to see the post-incident fan reaction. The standing ovation Jones received after the story came to light was a particularly classy move by Boston fans.
It’s fine to have rules and policies around this type of behavior. However, as fans, we all have an obligation to hold one another accountable and not let a few individuals ruin the reputation of city, a team or a fan base.
An Eye for an Eye
The Jones incident was ugly, but it wasn’t the only absurdity in the series. The headhunting saga should be at its end now that the commissioner is involved. Rob Manfred was forced to get the managers and general managers of both clubs on the phone to discuss the feud.
The duel has been well-documented, and it raises concerns about the unwritten rules of baseball. The game of baseball has always been played with a not-so-secret honor code that all players abide by. Players who showboat or play recklessly often find themselves on the receiving end of a retaliatory fastball.
Whether you enjoy this aspect of the game or not, there is little doubt this behavior is on its way out. We’ve seen an increased focus on player safety in recent years starting with the “Buster Posey” rule that eliminated catcher collisions. Based on that trend, there can be little doubt that firing pitches at players’ heads won’t be tolerated moving forward.
Suspensions and fines have already been applied in this situation. Don’t be surprised when we see these events become rule-book changes as soon as this offseason.
(Featured Image by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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