Great Moments in Core Four love

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The Core Four: Derek Jeter. Mariano Rivera. Jorge Posada. And, um, maybe Clay Bellinger? I forget. Not important.

What is important is that for years Yankees writers have always made sure to protect the necks of those guys, particularly Jeter and Rivera. Woe be unto anyone who is insufficiently reverent of them and woe, woe, woe be unto any Yankees player who has any kind of dustup with them for they shall be told, in no uncertain terms, that they are not the True Yankees and Gentlemen that Rivera, Jeter and — man, I wanna say Brosius? — are.

Such is the case with Wallace Matthews and Joba Chamberlain today. The Joba Chamberlain who shushed Mariano Rivera the other day was shushed by Mariano Rivera the other day and reacted angrily to it. It was a scandal of something a million miles less than epic proportions, it’s over now and it’s meaningless, but you wouldn’t believe it to read Matthews. This silly little incident is, it seems, a referendum on Joba Chamberlain as a human being and Matthews spares no purple prose in telling us just how much less of a human and a pitcher Chamberlain is than Rivera is in making his point.

Which, thanks! Because before this I was certain that Chamberlain was a better pitcher than Rivera and now I know differently.

Seriously, though, you have to read it to believe it in all of its overwrought glory:

In the same ballpark where Mariano Rivera’s Yankees career nearly ended a year ago on the warning track, Joba Chamberlain’s Yankees tenure surely did in the dugout, his mouth writing what will soon be the epitaph to a career that turned out to be no more than a broken promise.

So confused. If the promise was broken, was it not false? And might that mean now that his mouth is, um, writing something other than an epitaph? Chamberlain is the Master of Lies! Maybe he is deceiving us!

Also note that, once again, Joba playing with his son on a trampoline is seen as a character flaw. That never gets old. And there is a passage in which Matthews suggests that Rivera would surely forgive Chamberlain where others might not. I was hoping he’d go with a full-on Jesus comparison at that point, but he used his deft writer’s touch to only suggest it. Probably wanted to avoid potential blasphemy in saying His name too many times or something.

In any event, this is so beyond parody of the Sucking Up to the True Yankees genre that I have to wonder if Matthews has gone completely meta on us and this is, rather, a COMMENT on all of that.  If so, well-played, Wallace.

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.