When people say things like, “I’m not a doctor, but…” it’s usually followed up by medical advice you should 100 percent never follow. That’s applicable in Paul Daugherty’s latest column for the Cincinnati Enquirer in which he criticizes Votto for taking too long to recuperate from his strained quadriceps.
Slagging Votto isn’t new for Daugherty. Just on this site, we have covered him slagging reliever Aroldis Chapman, starter Homer Bailey, and Votto on multiple occasions, even going so far as to say Brandon Phillips is better. So what’s the offense this time? Daugherty writes:
We outsiders don’t know much. We who aren’t doctors aren’t qualified to comment on the extent of an injury, or on anyone’s pain or ability to withstand it. That’s speculation, and that’s not fair.
We only know what we see. Here’s what I see:
Daugherty then recounts Mike Leake and Jay Bruce playing through injuries. Likely as a result of his stiff neck, Leake has been ineffective as of late, allowing five runs to the Giants on Thursday, and four to the Diamondbacks in his previous start. Bruce entered this afternoon’s game against the Phillies with a .440 OPS in 46 plate appearances since returning from the disabled list after undergoing knee surgery. Who cares about effectiveness as long as you’re toughing it out like a true Team Player?
Daugherty goes on:
To be clear: Votto didn’t want to go on the disabled list. Price says he’s the one responsible for keeping Votto on the mend, instead of in the lineup. And Votto’s durability isn’t suspect: He played in all 162 last year, and in 161 two years before that. But how healthy is healthy enough, and when does Votto get there?
Believe what you want. I believe if Votto insisted on playing, he would be playing. Superstars call shots everywhere, even in little places like Cincinnati. A manager is not going to say no to that guy, nor should he. Especially when the guy in question is as valuable as Votto is.
At least Daugherty has changed his tune on Votto’s value, having called Phillips the Reds’ MVP instead of Votto last July, citing RBI and batting average with runners in scoring position. Daugherty essentially calls both Votto and manager Bryan Price liars based on a gut feeling.
Like it or not, the sports ethos is to play with pain. Teammates respect it, owners expect it. It’s almost a given. Pain is in the contract. Even in early June, few players are in perfect health. By August, no one is.
Categorically incorrect on multiple levels. Where is this ethos? Why is there a disabled list? If Votto played hurt and was consequently ineffective — like teammate Bruce — Daugherty would be the first penning a column complaining that Votto was selfish and caring only about his individual stats, and that he should have thought about the team first by going on the disabled list.
Playing through an injury is almost always a bad idea. Athletes will overcompensate for their weakness in one area by over-exerting in another area, which puts them at an increased risk of further injuring themselves. Their performance declines. Opponents know how to take advantage of an injured player. For instance, with a quadriceps injury, Votto won’t be able to generate as much power with his legs, so pitchers will be much more willing to pitch him inside and over the plate than usual.
It’s not clear what Daugherty’s motive is for all of these hit pieces against Votto. Maybe Votto was rude to him once, or he’s playing to the lowest common denominators in the Reds fan base. What is clear is that his criticism of Votto over the last few years has been almost entirely baseless and at this point it seems obsessive. Also, as a rule of thumb, writers or fans who criticize an athlete’s pain threshold should be required to present a history of all the times they called out of work or missed school due to a tummy ache.