Injury News in Baseball

So there have been several injuries this season of note and while it doesn’t really FEEL like it’s a lot of guys going down, the talent of the players who have gotten hurt in recent weeks has been what is more of the story. Here are some guys who have gone down in the last few weeks and what their timetable is for return to form.

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-Shohei Ohtani, the two-way Japanese phenom for the Angels, has a partially torn UCL, which almost always requires Tommy John surgery, which would end his 2018 season and possibly his 2019 season as well. The Angels are holding out hope that it doesn’t come to Tommy John and they are even considering continuing to use him as a DH while he recovers from the surgery. That sounds like a REALLY bad idea. While I get that Anaheim might feel a little desperate since they have a legitimately good team this year that is contending for a playoff spot in a VERY tough AL West, you have to learn from the mistake the Washington Redskins made with Robert Griffin III in 2013. RG3 was rushed back from a torn ACL in the postseason to play week 1 and all of his elusiveness was sapped away and his flaws as a passer were amplified, thus destroying his once promising career. You could be facing a similar situation with Ohtani. Ohtani has been very successful in his first couple months in the States, slashing .289/.372/.535 with 6 homers and 20 RBI in 43 games as a hitter and carries a 4-1 record with a 3.10 ERA while striking out over 11 batters per 9 innings as a pitcher, both very good performances. There hasn’t been a player who was both a high-caliber pitcher and hitter since Babe Ruth. Don’t fuck this up, Anaheim. Let him recover. You risk destroying this man’s career by rushing him back before he’s ready. UCL’s are nothing to screw around with, swinging a bat can be just as damaging as throwing a baseball and since Ohtani bats lefty, it will be his right (throwing) arm that does the bulk of the swing and therefore takes the brunt of the pressure. Just bite the bullet and try and make a move at the deadline to compensate for the loss. I hear the Mets may make Jacob deGrom available. If you rush Ohtani back before he’s ready, you could risk an RG3 situation in which a phenomenal talent gets destroyed because you weren’t patient enough to let him recover. Do the right thing, Angels.

-Tigers first baseman and 2-time AL MVP Miguel Cabrera is out for the remainder of the 2018 season after undergoing bicep surgery, which upsets me for a number of reasons, the main of which being that Miggy is one of my favorite players in baseball even as his skills start to decline with age. However this could be a blessing in disguise for Detroit. Cabrera was slashing .301/.394/.451 in 37 games played (he had another DL stint earlier this season) with 3 home runs and 22 RBI. While the power numbers aren’t what we’re used to from the future Hall of Famer, he was still a productive hitter in this lineup. The Tigers are sitting in third place in the AL Central at 31-37 as I write this and aren’t nearly bad enough to be in serious contention for another high draft spot. If you’re going to rebuild, you have to be all-in and Miggy hitting well does not help a rebuild. They landed Auburn ace Casey Mize with the top pick in this year’s MLB Draft and he was one of the few prospects I felt had superstar potential. If they hope to land a talent like that again, they really need to hit the tank button. While it does suck to lose an impactful hitter like Miguel Cabrera, it can be potentially beneficial for the future of this franchise as they stockpile high draft picks.

-While Mookie Betts did return from the DL after missing 14 games due to a hip injury, the Red Sox superstar hasn’t looked quite at 100% in his first couple games back and I think that the team could afford to give him some more rest every now and then as he attempts to return to the form that was dominating baseball for the first two months of the season. Despite the recent DL stint, Mookie has garnered the most votes in the first All Star ballot update by slashing .354/.431/.735 and hitting 17 home runs and driving in 37 RBI while continuing to play the best right field in baseball. However in his absence, the Red Sox went a decent 8-6, showing that the team can win without their superstar. They still have guys like the deadly JD Martinez and the suddenly red-hot Andrew Benintendi, so I think giving Mookie more frequent breathers to make sure he gets to 100% would be most beneficial to this team’s long-term goals.

-Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka injured his hammy running the bases and had to hit the DL and I’m sorry, but his happens far too often when American League pitchers have to hit in National League stadiums. Yankees fans should be especially weary of this after what happened to Chien-Ming Wang a decade ago. Wang was absolutely dominant for the pinstripes but after hurting himself running the bases in Houston, he was never the same and it destroyed his career. If ever there was a reason to install the DH throughout Major League Baseball, this would be a big one. Pitchers aren’t focused at all on their hitting (unless they are Shohei Ohtani) and the AL ones only ever have to hit on the rare occasion they pitch in an NL ballpark, which is maybe two or three times a season for each starter. Even then they don’t expect to get on base so when they do they’re totally unprepared to actually run bases, which is an important part of the game if you hadn’t noticed so they can’t exactly dog it out there. This leads to leg injuries like the one suffered by Tanaka. I don’t know, man, I mean what other professional sport are you going to find that has such different rules depending on what league/conference they’re in? I get the tradition thing, really, I do. But MLB has already installed video replay systems to overturn calls, why can’t they just make the DH rule universal? I enjoy AL baseball more than NL baseball simply for the fact that I don’t have to watch these pitchers half-ass their at bats because they know they’re trash at the plate anyway and nobody expects them to get a hit.

That’s going to do it for this injury update, let me know what you think of the recent trends in injuries in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

General Sports: April 5

-Patriots receiver Julian Edelman helped thwart a potential school shooting. A user commented on one of Edelman’s Instagram photos saying he was going to shoot up his school and to “check the news tomorrow.” Another user went to Edelman’s DM’s and notified him of this comment. Edelman found it and, thinking of what happened in Parkland, Florida, had his assistant notify police. They were able to identify the subject as a 14 year-old in Michigan who admitted to being the user that made the threat and he was apprehended. There is a crowd that wonders why Edelman didn’t just call the cops himself, but I’m not one of them simply because I don’t care who calls the cops in this situation, as long as they get called. You can’t take these threats lightly, whether the kid meant it or not.

-Von Miller may be in trouble for catching a hammerhead shark on a fishing trip. For evidence, look no further than his Instagram.

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PETA wants to make sure that Miller didn’t catch this shark illegally, which apparently he may have done so since it’s a hammerhead (Group 3, whatever that means) and catching one is punishable by $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail. Miller did say that he threw it back, though. I really don’t think anything is going to come of this but I just have to say holy shit, Von. That’s a 9 and a half foot hammerhead fucking shark! The tail fin is almost as big as he is! As if Miller weren’t badass enough being one of the best pass rushers in the NFL, now he’s out here in Miami catching hammerhead sharks. This was off the coast in Miami, which has me a little retroactively nervous because I was just there a few weeks ago for spring break and I went swimming in the ocean a couple times. Sharks are up there on my “most-feared animals” list with bears and alligators/crocodiles, though I did work on my fear of the latter, as you can see below.

Gator? I hardly knew her

A post shared by Jim Wyman (@jimwyman10) on

Who cares if it was just a baby or if it’s mouth was tied up? Just let me take it one step at a time, dammit!

-The Ravens signed Robert Griffin III to a 1 year deal to back up Joe Flacco. I’m happy to see RG3 signing with a new team. The former Heisman Trophy winner is one of the biggest what-if’s in recent memory and I’m a firm believer in the sentiment that Mike Shanahan ruined RG3’s career by rushing him back from that ACL tear he suffered in the playoffs against Seattle far too soon. There was no reason he should’ve torn that thing in the playoffs then returned for Week 1. But I digress, Griffin seems like a good dude and I hope he succeeds in whatever he does. It’s also curious that the Ravens seem to be taking an interest in running quarterbacks of late. They drafted Tyrod Taylor a few years ago, were going to sign Colin Kaepernick if their owner didn’t veto it, and now they sign Griffin. I’m not sure what exactly this points to, if anything, but it’s good to see RG3 with a job again after not being on a roster in 2017.

-The Rockies gave Charlie Blackmon a 6-year extension worth up to $116M which will take him through his age-38 season, all but assuring he spends his entire career in Colorado. Blackmon is one of the most underrated athletes in all of sports, let alone baseball, as last season he set a Major League record with 104 RBI’s out of the leadoff spot to go along with a .331 batting average, 37 home runs, and a 6.5 WAR. He would’ve had my vote for NL MVP if I had one. This season he’s continuing his excellent play as he was hitting .316 with 4 homers, 6 RBI, and a 1.462 OPS in 5 games entering Wednesday night’s tilt with the Padres. Blackmon’s been in the Majors since 2011 but he didn’t really break out until 2016 and since then he’s been the best leadoff hitter in the game so this extension is well-warranted for the late bloomer.

-Shohei Ohtani is quickly making everyone forget how bad his Spring Training went. After going 4-32 at the plate and allowing 9 runs in 2.2 innings, Ohtani has been excelling now that the games count. In his first start on the mound, he went 6 innings giving up 3 runs, however all came on a 3-run homer and he was lights out otherwise. He went 1-5 in his first game as DH on Opening Day, then in his first game in Anaheim he homers in his first at bat then got a couple more hits. He homered again in Wednesday’s tilt with the Indians off reigning Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber and as of this writing, he’s hitting .444. It’s still early, but Ohtani is looking like he’s worth the hype a few games into his career.

-Giancarlo Stanton struck out 5 times in his Yankee Stadium debut and received a chorus of boos for the showing. For a lot of guys, this would be crushing. But the thing about baseball is you play everyday so there’s always the chance to redeem yourself. Well…

I love how Michael Kay knew the ball was gone seemingly before it even touched his bat, that’s how hard Stanton crushed it. He’s going to strike out his fare share, but he’s also going to do that. You take the good with the bad with him.

That’s going to do it for this edition of General Sports. Let me know what you think of the topics discussed in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

The XFL is Returning

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As you may have heard, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon will be restarting his failed football league from 2001, the XFL. The original rendition of this league flopped heavily due to both ratings and bad football. It took place during the NFL offseason and featured fewer rules and encouraged heavy violence. Allegedly, McMahon is restarting this league because he sees an opportunity, since the NFL’s ratings are down as of late and people have been openly complaining about the product, whether it be how the game is officiated to injuries to off the field social issues.

As I scroll through the Wikipedia article, I’m noticing some VERY interesting things about the first edition of the XFL. There were 8 teams: the Orlando Rage, Chicago Enforcers, New York/Jersey Hitmen, Birmingham Thunderbolts, Los Angeles Xtreme, San Francisco Demons, Memphis Maniax, and Las Vegas Outlaws. The Xtreme were champions in the only year of existence. There was an emphasis on combining wrestling with football, as players and coaches would be mic’d up during games and the public address announcers would talk trash while scantily-clad cheerleaders pranced along the sidelines (and were encouraged to date players). There was no pre-game coin toss. Instead, officials would roll the ball and two players from each team would dive for it in a scrum and whomever came out with it got to decide whether to kick or receive. This was referred to as the “Human Coin Toss.” The league MVP was Tommy Maddox, a former first round pick in the NFL and the quarterback that preceded Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh, where he signed after the XFL folded. Former first round pick Jim Druckenmiller and current Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm were also notable players who played quarterback in the league. Former Heisman winner Rashaan Salaam played in the league as well. Runningback Rod Smart actually wore “He Hate Me” on the back of his jersey rather than his own last name.

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Some interesting rules included no PAT kick, you had to go for two after every touchdown except it only counted for one extra point, but you could get bonus points if you agreed to run the play from a further distance than the traditional 2-yard line for up to 3 extra points. Their overtime rules were similar to the NCAA except there were no opportunities for first downs, you must score within four plays. Also, before the ball was snapped, one player is allowed to get a running start toward the line of scrimmage as long as he is outside of the tackles, rather than standing still and being set. Punting was also heavily affected in the XFL. For example, punting out of bounds resulted in a 10-yard penalty, the punting team could recover the ball as long as it traveled 25 yards and regain possession even if the receiving team didn’t touch it, and most insanely, fair catches are not recognized. I’m sure when the XFL reboots, which is expected to occur in 2020, some of these rules may not be a thing.

So what can we expect to see out of the XFL? Well, we really have no idea what to expect, but here are a few things I’d like to see.

WWE Wrestlers Signed to Rosters, Wrestling Moves are Legal

This isn’t the craziest idea in the world because there are some WWE wrestlers with football experience. Brock Lesnar participated in training camp with the Minnesota Vikings. Roman Reigns was a defensive tackle at Georgia Tech. Hell, the Rock was a defensive end at Miami (FL) during the days when they were “The U.” Will they be good? Probably not, but I wouldn’t mind watching Lesnar suplex some runningbacks or Reigns spear a scrambling quarterback. Sure it might affect their wrestling schedules, but Lesnar barely shows up on WWE programming anyway and Reigns often gets booed out of the building so I’m sure some of these guys wouldn’t mind a chance to do something else.

Well-Defined Catch Rules

This is probably the biggest crutch facing the NFL right now as nobody really knows for certain what a catch is anymore. If the XFL can easily define it and have good success with their rules, we could see the NFL try and adapt. But hey, it’s Vince McMahon, whose WWE repeatedly changes its rules to fit the narrative they’re trying to tell so I wouldn’t be surprised if the rules are pretty loose.

“Exiled” Players Getting a Second Chance

The XFL is a great opportunity for guys who aren’t good enough for the NFL or guys who likely won’t make it back into the NFL to return to the spotlight. For example, I wouldn’t be shocked in the slightest to see Johnny Manziel and Tim Tebow quarterbacking teams in this new league. Maybe even Colin Kaepernick or Ray Rice. But the point is, the XFL can kind of serve as a secondary league. Hell, guys in the NFL who are in a contract year could use the XFL as a bargaining chip. If Le’Veon Bell doesn’t want to play on the Franchise Tag for the Steelers, he could threaten to go play for the Memphis Maniax.

Surprise Entrants on the Field

Let’s say a fight breaks out during the game. Let’s say Brock Lesnar is beating the Hell out of Roman Reigns. In a normal NFL game, referees and teammates try and break it up. But what if we hear Hulk Hogan’s theme music as he runs out onto the field to attack Lesnar, then takes a microphone and announces he’s joined Reigns’ team as the camera shows Lesnar’s shocked face. I can already hear the “bah gawd’s!”

The Championship Trophy is a Belt

That’s really all I have to say on this topic. You saw how the Turnover Chain worked for the U. Imagine if your goal was getting a title belt. They could treat it like the Stanley Cup and every player on the winning team gets to take the belt and do with it as he pleases.

A Women’s XFL Division

The LFL is already a thing and WWE over the last couple of years has been trying to make an improvement on how they promote women’s wrestling (which has been pretty poor in the past to say the least). Perhaps they’d be invested in a female division of the XFL with a few all-female teams that would face each other.

Weapons

Offensive linemen can use steel chairs and put opposing pass rushers through tables. Or, what if you gained a weapon you can use for one play when you stopped at a certain part of the field. Perhaps if you’re tackled on the opponent’s 30 yard line, you can unlock a ladder that you can set up in the opponent’s end zone then plant a receiver in there. They can get really creative with this.

Unfortunately, very little of this will likely happen, especially considering McMahon announced that he won’t take players with any form of criminal record, which would rule out guys like Manziel and Rice. He also said he wants it to be “family-friendly” and emphasized forcing players to stand for the National Anthem. Plus, if they do revert to their old style of rules from the initial rendition, there will be outrage from the media and players, as the safety issues that the NFL struggles with right now would be increased ten fold in the XFL. In all, I really don’t expect this to do very well in the long run. The NFL is just too dominant to compete with. I think the XFL will do well its first week or so, but once people see how bad the quality of football is, they may see it as another Arena Football League. That being said, it is fun to theorize what could become legal in was originally intended to be a more barbaric football league.

That’s it for today’s blog, let me know what you think of the XFL revival and any creative rules you might have for the product in the comments section below and hit me up on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.