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Josh Beckett the Latest of Many Pitchers to Hurt Themselves While Swinging

In MLB, there is one main difference between the American League and the National League. In the AL, designated hitters are allowed but in the NL they’re not. That means pitchers don’t have to bat in the AL so their only job is to pitch. In the NL, more is asked of the pitchers because they have to bat too. Does the AL have it right? Should pitchers only be concerned about throwing the ball and not hitting it?

This idea has been debated for years and has been sparked by the injury to Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett who was placed on the DL because of a back injury. Beckett of course hurt his back while swinging in preparation for interleague play where he’d be forced to hit. Now if this isn’t downright pathetic, I’m not quite sure what is. When you play baseball at a professional level, you should have a certain level of athleticism. Unfortunately Beckett isn’t the only pitcher who’s been hurt swinging a bat (or trying to) over the last few years. Let’s take a look at some of the pitchers who need to stay on the mound and out of the batter’s box:

American League

1. Josh Beckett, Boston Red Sox – Beckett injured himself before the start of May 10th’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays by taking practice swings. Let’s examine this a little more closely shall we? Beckett was swinging the bat before a game against who? The Blue Jays? Ah, another American League team that he doesn’t have to hit against anyways. This makes my head hurt. The Red Sox said this was because the pitchers are getting ready for interleague play. The Red Sox’s first interleague game is on Sunday at Philadelphia. So, Beckett was practice swinging for a game that was 13 days away at that point? And now he’s on the DL. That is just plain dumb.

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Bartolo Colon Wasn’t Missing, He Was Just a Depressed Michael Jackson Fan

If you’re familiar with LBS, you are well-aware of our (read: my) affinity for Ozzie Guillen quotes. What can I say? The guy’s a priceless Hall of Famer who keeps me in business. Well Ozzie certainly brought his A-Game to the yard when speaking about Bartolo Colon, who was reported as “missing” by the White Sox as of Wednesday. Luckily Ozzie explained why the team was unable to locate their pitcher who was supposed to begin a rehab assignment:

“I worry about Colon because Colon was a big-time Michael Jackson fan,” Guillen said. “He maybe was in LA at his funeral, because I can’t find him. Nobody knows how big of a Michael Jackson fan Colon was. I’m serious. He might be depressed a little bit.

“To talk to Colon, you’ve got to talk to 20 different people. You got to talk to 30 different cousins, and then to his agent, who talks to his brother, his brother call his wife, his wife say he’s with Pedro, Pedro say he’s with Juan,” said Guillen, having a little fun with the subject. “I guarantee you I’ll call [President Barack] Obama, and we’ll have a talk before Colon answers the phone. Obama will put me on hold for one second.

Every one of us has that friend who’s impossible to reach just like Bartolo. It must be so frustrating for teams when this happens — you have a player under contract, under your control, and you can’t reach him. I remember when that happened to the Braves with Willy Aybar. What can you even do in those circumstances? I guess in Colon’s case, you can fire up some carne asada in Charlotte and then you’ll ensure he shows up.

Return of the Fat Boy Pitchers

Last month I was defending overweight MLB players from irrational criticism by the media. I would like to add that since the writing of the post, C.C. Sabathia has a 1.45 ERA, and Prince Fielder has five home runs and has raised his slugging percentage by 151 points, all the while being just as fat as they were the first few weeks of the season. Anyway, getting back to business, I would like to note that fat boys could be the latest trend in MLB. Witness Wednesday night in Boston and Minnesota.

Bartolo Colon made his season debut for the Red Sox going five innings of two-run ball, picking up the win in the 6-3 game. (costing me a gentleman’s bet while we’re at it). He beat the Royals by throwing his fastball from 91-94, spotting it with excellent placement. He wasn’t hit too hard and only had to go his five since the Red Sox supported him with a bunch of runs in the 5th. This is the same guy who was torched last year with the Angels because of a partially torn rotator cuff. I wonder how long his shoulder will hold up, but for now, he’s good enough to get the job done.

Meanwhile in Minnesota, another blast from the Farmer John past was handling business as well. The Fat Aruban, Sidney Ponson, who’s been an break in case of emergency starter the last three years, had yet another strong start for the Rangers. I have no idea how this guy manages to get it done, but he somehow went the distance allowing only seven baserunners all game. Ponson is 3-0 for a patchwork Rangers staff right now. He’ll only last one or two more before he starts getting bombed. But it just amazes me how as the season goes on, teams start scraping so badly because of injury that you start seeing Jody Geruts, Bartolo Colons, and Sidney Ponsons getting action. Paging David Wells, anybody?

Baseball Players Are Meant to Be Fat

There’s one thing about the media and their treatment of certain baseball players that’s irked me lately: their absurd treatment of overweight (read: fat) baseball players. Not to say that you should be a fat ass and play baseball, but I just can’t stand the way the media handles baseball players and their body weight. Ever notice how weight issues are only brought up when that player struggles? Oh, Miguel Cabrera off to a slow start, he’s too overweight. Andruw Jones is only hitting a buck fifty, it’s because he’s too fat. Bartolo Colon needs to get in shape if he wants to make the Red Sox’ roster. Prince Fielder isn’t hitting for power because he’s not eating enough (a topic on PTI Wednesday). Guaranteed you’ll hear something on Thursday about C.C. Sabathia struggling because he’s too overweight.

Well I have a major complaint about this type of thinking: the media needs to be more freaking consistent. Find something to pick on other than weight. Why is it that no complaints are made about these players’ weights when they’re kicking ass while fat? Why does the criticism only come when they start to perform poorly while maintaining the same out-of-shape body? Bartolo Colon was a blimp when he won his 2005 Cy Young. Don’t tell me otherwise. Andruw Jones was portly when he blasted 51 and 41 in back-to-back seasons. Miguel Cabrera ballooned last year but still had his typical stellar season. Matter of fact, “fat Miggy” set career highs for home runs and RBI. Prince Fielder might not be hitting because we’re only two weeks into an seven month season and because 50 home runs is not easy to duplicate.

If you’re going to tell me that David Wells didn’t reach his potential because he didn’t dedicate himself to the game and stayed out-of-shape, I’ll accept it. But don’t tell me that players who were successful while fat aren’t succeeding because they’re still just as fat. Now that doesn’t make sense. Find something else to pick on instead, like Bartolo’s rotator cuff being partially torn, Andruw habit of pulling outside pitches, and C.C. leaving his fast ball up in the zone too often. But don’t tell me it’s because they’re fat.

The Rise and Fall of Bartolo Colon

It’s really amazing the way time flies by. Seeing contracts that were once monster free agent signings expire really blows your mind. Can you believe Manny’s ginormous deal is almost up? Before you know it, you’re gonna wake up one day in Spring Training and see your squad bringing in Barry Zito for a tryout since his once enormous seven-year deal is up. Crazy. With that in mind, I must bring up Bartolo Colon. The reports over the weekend were that the Red Sox had signed Bartolo to a minor-league deal. Just what, four years ago, Colon was one of the hottest arms on the free agent market getting a big-time four-year deal from the Angels for just over $50 mil. These days that’s what the Mariners practically paid for Carlos Silva.

So Colon sucked in his first year with the Angels. About the only thing he did right was stay healthy, making 34 starts for 208 innings (he didn’t last very long in most of them). He still won 18 games, largely because the Angels hit for him. Same story in 2005, but Bart was much better that year and won the Cy Young (though Johan Santana was superior). ’06 and ’07 were lost causes because of injury, and Colon’s dumbass didn’t get surgery to repair his rotator cuff in the off-season and wound up being useless last year. Now what, four years later, dude is back on the market again, and the best he can do is lock down a minor league deal?

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