We bid our farewell to Tiffany Simons

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A fair number of HBT Extra/Daily viewers watch those videos for reasons other than me and my nasally lisping of the day’s baseball stories.  Many watch because of the lovely and talented anchor, Tiffany Simons.

For those folks I have some sad news: today’s videos — the AL and NL playoff previews — were Tiffany’s swan song for NBC Sports.com.  Tiffany is leaving the peacock for Florida, which happens to be her native home.  It’s not our business to pry into such matters, but I can say that we at NBC are sad to see her go even if we are happy that good things await her there.

Personally, I am happy that after all of this time I finally, in the past couple of months, got to meet in person the one who has probably done more than anyone else to help me not be self-conscious and terrified in front of a camera. Her secret: getting me to gab about weird crap we read in magazines while waiting for the teleprompter to cue up. It’s impossible to be nervous talking about baseball stuff when you just got done laughing your ass off about romantic comedies, weird unsolved crimes, the beauty secrets of the stars and the like.

Thanks for everything, Tiffany. Good luck and good travels. And I’ll finally let you out of my basement.

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.