Brian Sabean: “the game is East Coast-centric”

27 Comments

An article in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat catches up with Giants GM Brian Sabean, who notes that life hasn’t changed all that much for the World Series champs in terms of hype or outside media interest or anything like that.  Part of that may be, he explains, because of the dreaded east coast bias:

“It teaches us that the game is East Coast-centric. If you came in here after traveling on a year-long safari in Africa and knew nothing about the events of last year, you would not know there was any difference.”

East Coast-centric?

“We were joking about the Phillies’ press conference they chose to have, I guess, because of all the interest with their starting pitchers. Somebody told me they had 200 media people there. And they didn’t even get to the World Series.”

I don’t think Sabean is complaining here or taking a swipe at the Phillies rotation, but I also don’t think that interest in the Phillies rotation compared to the Giants winning the World Series is indicative of anything, east coast centrism or otherwise.

Someone wins the World Series in the fall and starts spring training the following February every single year. Unless they import some player with a singularly large media following like Hideki Matsui, the same media contingent that follows them each spring shows up.  Maybe during your first game of spring training you get some guest members of the national sporting press hanging around — the Giants’ spring kickoff played host to me, Tyler Kepner of the New York Times and Dave Brown of Yahoo!, among others — but beyond that it’s the same half-dozen beat writers and a random camera crew or two who always cover the team.

What doesn’t happen every year is the assembly of an All-Star rotation like that in Philly. So when the Phillies — who were no doubt inundated with individual press inquiries — decide to hold a press conference about it, of course it’s going to garner considerable interest.

Put differently, the Giants aren’t news. They were news in October and if they do anything neat again, they will again be news.  The Phillies rotation coming together is news.  And reporters tend to go where the news is.

(link via BTF)

Neal Huntington thinks players should be allowed to re-enter games after concussion testing

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
2 Comments

Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli, who has suffered many concussions throughout his 12-year career, was hit on the back of the helmet on a Joc Pederson backswing Saturday against the Dodgers. Through Cervelli remained in the game initially, he took himself out of the game shortly thereafter and went on the seven-day concussion injured list on Sunday.

Perhaps inspired by Saturday’s event, Pirates GM Neal Huntington suggested that players should be allowed to re-enter games once they have passed concussion tests, the Associated Press reports. Huntington said, “Any player that had an obvious concussion risk incident should be allowed to be removed from the game, taken off the field, taken into the locker room, assessed by a doctor, assessed by a trainer, go through an extended period of time and then re-enter the game. Because right now, all of this has to happen on the field.”

Huntington added, “The player has to feel pressure as he’s standing there with 30,000 or 10,000 or 50,000 eyes on him. He has to feel pressure to make a decision whether (he’s) in or (he’s) out of this game. He knows if he takes himself out and he’s the catcher, there’s only one other catcher, and the game becomes a fiasco if that other catcher gets hurt.”

Huntington, who has been forward-thinking on a number of other issues, has it wrong here. The concussion protocols were created because players frequently hid or under-reported their injuries in order to remain in the game. Especially for younger or otherwise less-proven players, there is pressure to have to constantly perform in order to keep one’s job. Furthermore, there is an overarching sentiment across sports that taking time off due to injury makes one weak. Similarly, playing while injured is seen as tough and masculine. Creating protocols that take the decision-making out of players’ hands keeps them from making decisions that aren’t in their own best interests. Removing them would bring back that pressure for players to hide or minimize their ailments. If anything, MLB’s concussion protocols should become more stringent, not more relaxed.

The powers that be with Major League Baseball have no doubt followed the concussion scandal surrounding the National Football League. In January, the NFL settled for over $1 billion with retired players dealing with traumatic brain injuries, including dementia, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. For years, the league refused to acknowledge the link between playing football and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), which is a neurodegenerative disease that can lead to dementia and has many negative effects, such as increasing the risk of suicide. Since baseball isn’t often a contact sport, MLB doesn’t have to worry about brain injuries to this degree, but it still needs to take preventative measures in order to avoid billion-dollar lawsuits as well as avoiding P.R. damage. In December 2012, former major league outfielder Ryan Freel committed suicide. Freel, who claimed to have suffered as many as 10 concussions, suffered from CTE. MLB players can suffer brain injuries just like football players.

Huntington seems to be worried about not having enough rostered catchers in the event one or two catchers get injured. That is really an issue of roster management. Carrying only two catchers on the roster is a calculated risk, often justified. Huntington can ensure his team never has to be put in the position of not having a catcher in an emergency by rostering a third catcher. Rosters are expanding to 26 players next year, by the way.