Nick Swisher on Yankee Stadium booing: “It hurts … sometimes I’m a sensitive guy”

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Nick Swisher broke from his usual “Roll Call” salute to fans in the Yankee Stadium bleachers yesterday because Bryan Hoch of MLB.com reports that he was “stung by jeers he heard from the home crowd” during Game 1 of the ALCS.

Here’s more from Swisher:

That’s the last thing that I ever thought would be in this ballpark, that people would get on you that bad. Especially your home, where your heart is, where you’ve been battling and grinding all year long. It’s just frustrating, man. You never want to be in that spot. It’s not like you’re trying to go out there and do bad on purpose. It’s just tough, man.

Swisher has played four years in New York and, based on those comments, apparently hasn’t noticed the Yankee Stadium crowd booing Alex Rodriguez on a semi-regular basis essentially that entire time.

Swisher added that he doesn’t like the personal attacks he’s heard within the boos:

Last night was pretty big. A lot of people saying a lot of things that I’ve never heard before. Prime example: I missed that [12th-inning Delmon Young] ball in the lights, and the next thing you know, I’m the reason that Jeter got hurt. It’s kind of frustrating. They were saying it was my fault. …

It hurts. Sometimes I’m a sensitive guy and some of the things people say, they get under your skin a little bit. I’ve been lucky to be here for the past four years, bro. We’re not going to go out like this. We’re going to go to Detroit and give everything we’ve got.

Blaming him for the Derek Jeter injury is silly, of course, but “I missed that ball in the lights” isn’t a magic wand that can be raised to remove all criticism, particularly considering Swisher is now hitting .167 in 45 career playoff games. He’s been terrible and the Yankee Stadium crowd, like many baseball crowds, often boos players who perform terribly. There’s not a whole lot else to it, although Swisher’s impending free agency does add an extra wrinkle.

I do, however, appreciate Swisher so perfectly fitting his reputation by including “bro” in his quote.

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

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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.