Attention general managers: No one cares about your injuries

Leave a comment

Bill Parcells.jpgI’m usually not a big fan of the football mindset infiltrating baseball, probably because I’m not a football guy by nature.  But Peter Gammons has an anecdote involving Bill Parcells in his latest column that hit the spot:

When Parcells’ daughter married now-Kansas City Chiefs general
manager Scott Pioli, the best man was Indians GM Mark Shapiro, then the
club’s farm director. At the rehearsal dinner, Parcells asked Shapiro
about the Indians, and Shapiro began his response with an explanation
of a rash of injuries that had hit the team.

“Son,” Parcells interrupted, “Let me tell you something. Nobody [cares]. Just win.”

In the receiving line, when Parcells reached Shapiro, he said, “Remember what I told you. Nobody [cares]. Just win.”
And when they found themselves in adjoining stalls in the men’s room at the reception, Parcells repeated, “Son …

Injuries matter if you’re trying to assess performance, value players and do projections and stuff, but I am totally turned off, as a fan, when I hear the GM or the manager overdo it with the injury talk. We all know about the injuries. They’re heavily reported. Most of us aren’t going to demand your job if your team is beset by injuries.  But when talking about how the team is doing, don’t go there. At least not too often. There is no column for “injury losses” in the standings and they just sound like excuses.

Of course I seem to remember Shapiro going on about injuries a lot in recent years, so I guess that means he doesn’t follow the advice given to him by his best friend’s father in law while sitting next to him in the john.  But kudos to Parcells for trying anyway.

Bryce Harper will not be discussing his impending free agency with the media

Getty Images
3 Comments

Bryce Harper is entering his walk year and it is widely expected that the Scott Boras client will, indeed, test out free agency next fall rather than engage in any substantial way with the Washington Nationals about a contract extension. There were some “casual conversations” between the parties in the early fall of 2017, but the Nats came away from that, quite reasonably, believing that Harper, who stands to land the largest contract in baseball history, will shop around.

For his part, Harper met the media on his first day of spring training workouts and let everyone know that, no, he does not plan to answer questions about his potential free agency every day between now and November. From MASN:

“Just want to let you guys know I will not be discussing anything relative to 2019, at all,” said Harper. “I’m focused on this year. I’m focused on winning and playing hard, like every single year. So if you guys have any questions about anything after 2018, you can call Scott and he can answer you guys.”

Makes sense. The alternative would be for Harper to give the same canned “I’m only focused on our next game” responses in front of his locker 150 times this summer, and that doesn’t serve anyone.

Thinking back to any other impending free agent’s comments about his free agency, I can’t remember a story along those lines which was worth much of anything. The genre generally consists of headlines which oversell an innocuous or offhand comment from a player as a means of guessing where his head is at with respect to his current team. I can’t think of any story in which a player, during his walk year, said something that concretely and definitively signaled his intensions in free agency one way or the other.

Reporters covering the Nationals who are curious as to how Harper feels about his current team at any given time would be better served just observing and inferring, with particular attention paid to how Harper and his teammates view the Nats’ competitive position as the season goes on, how they react to trades and stuff like that. There’s a lot of guesswork in all of that, but it sure beats trying to get a media savvy player like Harper to admit, after going 1-for-4 against the Phillies, where he plans to spend the next seven to ten years of his professional life.