I’m assuming that when Carl Crawford agreed to do a season-long diary for ESPN.com that he figured he’d, you know, not totally suck all year. I’m also guessing that ESPN’s agreement with him is not so lucrative or so iron-clad that he couldn’t have just quit doing it when the season turned hellish for him, but he has kept it up all the same. Good for him!
But at the same time, it’s probably gotten pretty hard for him to put any sort of positive spin on this nightmare. That comes out a bit in his latest entry, which runs a bit more philosophical than we’ve come to expect from this sort of thing:
I want to end the diary saying something to the fans of Boston. I just want to say I’m sorry for the year I’ve had. You guys have been really supportive and I appreciate that. Hopefully when we get into these playoffs, I can be the real Carl Crawford that I know I am. We’ll see.
It’s the “we’ll see” that gets me. If he talked all bold about how he’s going to turn it around and kick some butt going forward, no one would ever remember it or hold it against him if he didn’t (it’s just a web diary hardly anyone is reading, after all). But he still hedged it. Yeah, I’m trafficking in b.s. armchair psychology here, but this reads like a guy who has zilch confidence in himself.
All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.
The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.
It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.
It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.
Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉