Joba Chamberlain shouldn’t have been on that trampoline

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Since the Joba Chamberlain news came out, a debate has sprung up about the wisdom employed by Mr. Chamberlain in being on that trampoline in the first place.  Between the comments and Twitter, I’ve seen opinion range from “leave Joba alone!” to “Joba is the biggest idiot in the history of idiots.”

I think both of those are extreme. My view: it’s understandable that he wanted to have fun with his son. Who wouldn’t want to?  But it was probably a bad decision here because trampolines are really freakin’ dangerous.

As it is, if you have one, your homeowner’s insurance company will make you pay a higher premium.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports there are approximately 100,000 backyard trampoline injuries a year. Kids die on them too. And while the CPSC hasn’t yet gathered numbers on those indoor trampoline centers — which is where it appears Chamberlain’s injury happened — they are likely pretty freakin’ dangerous too.

For an idea of that, check out this article from last summer about trampoline centers. It starts out with the business model for these places, but moves on to just how damn dangerous they are:

Since November, one Midwest trampoline park has had ambulances dispatched to it for trauma injuries ranging from broken ankles and dislocated shoulders to a head injury— a 13-year-old girl who fell on her head and reported tingling in her arms and difficulty breathing. Another West Coast center had fifteen ambulance calls since the place opened last fall, several of which were for serious injuries. These are only the ambulance calls; they don’t include the injuries where the parents took their children to the hospital.

The potential for devastating injuries concerns Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio …. we will probably shortly be seeing multiple lawsuits about trampoline park injuries, insurance companies refusing to continue to insure them, municipalities passing regulations prohibiting them and probably the Consumer Product Safety Commission cracking down on them.

Back to Joba.  Is he a dumb guy for wanting to play with his son? Of course not, and my heart breaks for him. But at the same time, this is not just one of those situations where we look back at the decision after an injury and say, only then, that the decision was a poor one due to the occurrence of the injury.

Trampolines aren’t bicycles or community swimming pools. They do not require you to be particularly careless in order for an injury to happen. They are way more dangerous, and  anyone whose career depends on being physically healthy has to think twice before participating in an activity with this much risk and where they make you sign elaborate injury waivers.

So, sorry, but for as understandable as it was that Chamberlain wanted to play with his son, he made a bad choice here. And that choice will cost him at least this season and maybe more. Maybe his career.

In other news:

Major League Baseball needs to make an example out of José Ureña

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We’re about an hour and a half separated from the first pitch of Wednesday night’s Marlins/Braves game that featured Marlins starter José Ureña hitting Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña on the elbow with a first-pitch, 97.5 MPH fastball. The benches emptied, Ureña was ejected, and the game went on. Acuña left the game not long after to tend to his injured elbow.

After the game, when the Marlins speak to the media, they will almost certainly deny any ill intent towards Acuña, who had hit leadoff home runs in three consecutive games against them. When they do so, they will be lying. Watch how catcher J.T. Realmuto sets up on the first pitch.

ESPN Stats & Info notes that Ureña’s 97.5 MPH fastball was in the 99th percentile in terms of velocity of the 2,125 pitches he has thrown this season. It was also the fastest pitch Ureña has ever thrown to begin a game. Ureña put a little extra mustard on this pitch, for some reason.

Ureña has a 6.8 percent walk rate, which ranks 37th out of 95 starters with at least 100 innings of work this season. The major league average is eight percent. Control isn’t typically something with which he struggles.

Furthermore, Acuña isn’t the only player who has drawn Ureña’s ire:

Ureña wanted nothing to do with Hoskins — even though Hoskins has yet to get a hit off of him — in his August 4 start at home against the Phillies, walking him twice which included a few up-and-in pitches.

Ureña will almost certainly be fined and suspended for his actions on Wednesday night against Acuña. But will his punishment be enough to deter him and others from wielding a baseball as a weapon? Probably not. On June 19, when Marlins starter Dan Straily intentionally threw at Buster Posey, he received a five-game suspension and manager Don Mattingly was suspended one game. If you look at Straily’s game logs, you can’t even tell he was suspended. He started six days later on June 25 against the Diamondbacks and again on July 1 and 6. Because starters only pitch once every five days, it was like he wasn’t even suspended at all.

Major League Baseball needs to levy harsher punishments on players who attempt to injure other players. A 15-game suspension, for example, would force Ureña to miss at least two starts and it would inconvenience the Marlins enough to more seriously weigh the pros and cons of exacting revenge. The Marlins couldn’t work around it the way they did Straily by pushing back his scheduled start one day.

Major League Baseball also needs to make a legitimate effort to do away with this culture of revenge against players who are just a little bit too happy. Batters get thrown at when they flip their bats, when they yell at themselves in frustration, and even when they’re just hitting well. Baseball’s stagnating audience is very old, very white, and very male. It is not going to bring in fans from diverse backgrounds by keeping this antiquated culture that prevents baseball players from showing their personalities and being emotive. In the event Acuña needs to go on the disabled list for a couple weeks, that’s two weeks that Acuña isn’t on SportsCenter’s top-10, isn’t on the front page of MLB.com, and isn’t in articles like this. The culture of revenge is actively harming MLB’s ability to market its bright, young stars. If ending this culture of revenge doesn’t hit MLB from a moral angle, it should absolutely hit home from a business angle.