The Rays are number one!

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No, not in the AL East! In terms of critical violations of health codes at its concession outlets in their home stadium!

ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” reviewed health department inspection reports
for food and beverage outlets at all 107 North American arenas and
stadiums that were home to Major League Baseball, National Football
League, National Hockey League and National Basketball Association teams
in 2009. At 30 of the venues (28 percent), more than half of the
concession stands or restaurants had been cited for at least one
“critical” or “major” health violation . . . At Tropicana Field — home of the Tampa Bay Rays — every one of the
stadium’s 47 food and drink outlets inspected incurred a critical
violation during inspections within the past year, according to Florida
inspection reports.

Not that the Rays are the only ones doing poorly in this regard. The story has a nice interactive map showing just how terrible every ballpark, stadium and arena is doing in all four major sports. I note a very large number of violations in Florida, though that could just as easily be a function of more stringent inspections in Florida than a difference in actual problems. When you look at stuff like this you’re bound to find differences in how things get reported.

And while the details in this kind of report don’t make me feel all that good, I’ve read enough books over the years that lead me to believe that we really don’t want to hear the details about anyplace we eat.

Hot dogs on me, everyone!

Cardinals encourage players not to hide injuries

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In Major League Baseball, players are routinely pressured to play through injury and pain. Sometimes it’s just a minor ache, and sometimes it’s a very serious injury. The pressure comes from everywhere: the players themselves, their peers, coaches, front offices, media, and fans. Players who develop a reputation for landing on the disabled list are described as “soft” and “fragile.” Players who battle through the pain get talked about as “gritty” and “dedicated.”

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals are trying to encourage their players to be more honest about their health. The culture surrounding this is tough to change, but manager Mike Matheny wants his players to come to him if “anything that is off.” As Goold notes, Alex Reyes and Matt Bowman revealed they were, in Bowman’s words, not “entirely forthcoming.” Carlos Martinez said he pitched tentatively because he was “scared” of re-injuring himself. Matheny also called pitcher Michael Wacha “a great liar” when talking about his arm health.

Matt Carpenter has also played through injury and takes pride in it. He’s an example of the old mentality the club is trying to pierce through. Caarpenter said, “I’m a believer in if you’re getting paid to do a job and you’re capable of doing the job — even if it’s 85 percent of your best — I feel you have the obligation to be out there. That is the mentality I’ve always used. I could have very easily, at times last year, sat on the [disabled list], but I felt like I could still go out and do my job.”

Goold points out that players approach dealing with health issues differently depending on where they’re at in their careers. A young player who just got called up has pressure to stay in the big leagues and appear in games, so he may not want to address a health issue. A player who has already secured a multi-year contract may have less pressure on him and thus may be more willing to come to the trainer’s room.

I’ve long believed that player health will be the next arena in which front offices will separate themselves from the pack. Analytics had been that battleground for a while, but with every club now having an analytics department in some capacity, front offices will have to find value in new ways. Limiting the amount of time that players miss due to injury would be a significant boost for a team and it will start with players being forthcoming about what’s bothering them rather than trying to fight through pain.