Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
The Mets announced this morning that third baseman and team captain David Wright will undergo surgery on the herniated disk in his neck. Officially there is no timetable for his return, but when the possibility of surgery was first raised the other day it was thought that surgery would end Wright’s 2016 season. It likely will.
Wright was placed on the disabled list earlier this month, retroactive to May 28. He was diagnosed with spinal stenosis — a narrowing of the spinal column — last season. Despite all of that, Wright was hitting well prior to landing on the DL, carrying a .788 OPS with seven home runs and 14 RBI in 164 plate appearances.
While the pennant-winning 2015 campaign brought warm feelings, Wright was limited to 38 games last season. He played in 37 this year. Sadly, these injuries are essentially ending Wright’s time as a regular contributor. Given that they’re the sort of injuries which could likewise impact his off-the-field life, they could end his career outright. Just an unfortunate set of circumstances for a guy who even when experiencing criticism from the fans and the press, has never wavered in his commitment to the Mets and has never not played hard.
I love the play in which a pitcher picks a guy off and, rather than throw the ball over, simply runs in between the bases to tag the guy. Bartolo Colon did this once last year and, because he’s Bartolo Colon and seeing dudes who look like Bartolo Colon run like this is unusual, that may have been better. But Johnny Cueto did it pretty well too.
There was a time, not too long ago, when anti-PED folks chided Major League Baseball for its allegedly unserious approach to drug testing and enforcement. Many of them, including columnists and so-called anti-doping experts, said that unless and until MLB adopted the same standards as groups like WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency, or its U.S. counterpart, USADA, it was signaling its intent to look the other way. Some even suggested that baseball let WADA or USADA simply take over baseball’s anti-drug efforts.
Many of us scoffed at such suggestions for a lot of reasons, not the least of which being WADA and USADA’s standards seemed unrealistic for professional baseball and, well, the fact that those organization’s have a historic penchant for seemingly spending more time on self-perpetuation than anything else.
But I guess there was always the fact that they’re crazily ineffective too, as this article in The New York Times makes clear. Specifically, in 2012 a Russian Olympic athlete sent a letter to WADA blowing the whistle on fellow Russian Olympians’ drug use, with names, dates and specifics. What did WADA do?
WADA, the global regulator of doping in Olympic sports, did not begin an inquiry, even though a staff lawyer circulated the message to three top officials, calling the accusations “relatively precise,” including names and facts. Instead, the agency did something that seemed antithetical to its mission to protect clean athletes. It sent Ms. Pishchalnikova’s email to Russian sports officials — the very people who she said were running the doping program.
Baseball’s anti-doping efforts haven’t always been fantastic, and its habit of cooperating with drug dealers in order to go after users in far harder fashion has never been the best look. But it’s damn sight better than punishing whistleblowers and letting drug use it knows about go unexamined and unpunished for several years, resulting in scandal.