If Jamie Moyer did indeed make a deal with the devil, it appears that ol’ Beelzebub has decided it’s time to cash in.
Moyer, who has had an amazing ability to avoid major health issues over the course of his 23-year career – a career spent baffling hitters with an array of marshmallow fastballs, Bugs Bunny breaking balls and invisible changeups – has had a hellish time over the last three months.
Enter, Todd Zolecki of MLB.com:
Moyer, 47, has been in the hospital three times since he suffered a sports hernia injury in September, and he has a fourth trip coming up. He had an initial surgery Oct. 2, but returned to the hospital Oct. 7 with a blood infection. He seemed to be making progress until he had to go back to the hospital Nov. 24 after complaining of recurring symptoms. During that stay, he had a second surgery, on Nov. 27, after tests showed a small collection of infected blood.
Moyer continues to wear a PICC line (peripherally inserted central catheter) to fight the infection, and next month has to go in for surgery to repair a meniscus on his right knee.
Despite all of this, Moyer claims he’ll be ready for the start of spring training in mid-February.
Optimistic as the ol’ lefty is, this is the exact reason I was puzzled that the Phillies gave him a two-year contract entering the 2009 season. No matter how much of a freak of nature he might be, he will still be nearly 48 when his contract expires. Anyone remember how suddenly and viciously Nolan Ryan’s career ended? Let’s hope Moyer doesn’t suffer the same fate.
“I was telling my wife Karen that I’ve been playing 20-plus years and never had a surgery,” he said. “So I guess I’m making up for it this offseason. I’ve been pretty blessed to stay away from that kind of stuff. I guess it was my time.”
Blessed, perhaps. Or maybe his body finally woke up and realized it was 47.
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We’ve had a couple of notable incidents of sign stealing in Major League Baseball over the past couple of years. Most famously, the Red Sox were found to be using Apple Watches of all things to relay signs spied via video feed. Sports Illustrated reported yesterday that there have been other less-publicized and unpublicized incidents as well, mostly with in-house TV cameras — as opposed to network TV cameras — stationed in the outfield and trained on catchers, for the specific purpose of stealing signs.
As such, SI reports, Major League Baseball is cracking down beginning this year. Within the next couple weeks an already-drafted and circulated rule will take effect which will (a) ban in-house outfield cameras from foul pole to foul pole; (b) will limit live broadcasts available to teams to the team’s replay official only, and the replay official will be watched by a league official to keep them from relaying signs to the team; and (c) other TV monitors that are available to the clubs will be on an eight-second delay to prevent real-time sign stealing. There will likewise be limits on TV monitors showing the game feed in certain places like tunnels and clubhouses.
Penalties for violation of the rules will include the forfeiting of draft picks and/or international spending money. General managers will have to sign a document in which they swear they know of know sign-stealing schemes.
As was the case when the Apple Watch incident came up, there will not be any new rules regarding old fashioned sign stealing by runners on second base or what have you, as that is viewed as part of the game. Only the technology-aided sign stealing that has become more prominent in recent years — but which has, of course, existed in other forms for a very, very long time — is subject to the crackdown.
While gamesmanship of one form or another has always been part of baseball, the current wave of sign-stealing is seen as a pace-of-play issue just as much as a fairness issue. Because of the actual sign-stealing — and because of paranoia that any opponent could be stealing signs — clubs have gone to far more elaborate and constantly changing sign protocols. This requires mound meetings and pitchers coming off the rubber in order to re-start the increasingly complex series of signs from dugout to catcher and from catcher to pitcher.
Now, presumably, with these new rules coming online, teams will figure out a new way to cheat. It’s baseball, after all. It’s in their DNA.