Stephen Strasburg

Deep Thoughts: arm injuries in Washington


Randomly surfing around the Washington sports pages, I see that Washington Redskins’ center Nick Sundberg broke his arm — clean freaking break of his left arm — yet still played in the Redskins-Saints game yesterday, doing 11 long snaps and blocking all day despite the break.

Contrast this with the Strasburg shutdown over fear of an injury.

No, I’m not THAT dumb. I realize a pitcher’s arm is a lot more critical to his job than a lineman’s forearm is.  But it definitely reminds us about the fungible nature of offensive lineman compared to that of your average baseball player. Let alone your superstar baseball player.

Maybe it’s more about the football player’s toughness. But I steeled on “fungibility” because I wonder what inspires a player to play through a broken arm and a team to allow him to do so, and while toughness is a possibility, I wonder if fear of losing one’s job has a lot to do with it too.  It’s that sort of thing that makes the consequences of what goes on on a football field that much more real and dire in my mind, and I can’t not think about it when I’m watching football.  Which takes a lot of the enjoyment out of it for me, frankly, and is a large part of why I really don’t watch it anymore.

Wild Card, Division series umpires announced

Angel Hernandez
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Major League Baseball just released the umpire assignments for the Wild Card Game and the Division Series. As always, the basis for these assignments is a proprietary, scientific calculation undertaken by Major League Baseball, mixing in (a) skill; (b) seniority; and (c) trolling of baseball bloggers who, unlike 99% of the rest of the world actually know the names and track records of various umpires and who are easily riled.

Which is to say that, while we have no Joe West in the early playoff rounds this year — too obvious, perhaps? — we do get an Angel Hernandez.

Here are the assignments. The asterisks represent the crew chief of each unit. Guys with little up arrows next to their names are regular season crew chiefs in their own right. Print this out and keep it near your television so you know who to yell about before the broadcasters tell you who to yell at:

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Which teams improved and declined the most in 2015?

Joe Maddon

I was curious about which MLB teams changed their fortunes the most this season compared to last year, so I crunched the numbers.

First, here are the biggest win total improvements from 2014 to 2015:

+24 Cubs
+21 Rangers
+16 Astros
+15 Diamondbacks
+13 Twins
+11 Mets
+10 Blue Jays
+10 Cardinals
+10 Pirates

The top five teams on the biggest-improvement list all had managers in their first season on the job, led by Joe Maddon joining the Cubs after tons of success with the Rays. Also worth noting: Of the nine teams with the biggest win total improvement, eight made the playoffs. Only the Twins improved to double-digit games and still failed to make the playoffs.

Now, here are the biggest win total declines from 2014 to 2015:

-20 Athletics
-16 Tigers
-15 Orioles
-14 Brewers
-13 Nationals
-13 Angels
-12 Braves
-12 Reds
-11 Mariners

Not surprisingly, a whole lot of those teams have changed managers, general managers, or both. And a couple more may still do so before the offseason gets underway. Oakland retained manager Bob Melvin despite an MLB-high 20-win dropoff and just promoted Billy Beane from general manager to vice president of baseball operations.