Baseball players have been whining for decades, of course, so in this case it was only a matter of time. And so less than a day after Major League Baseball announced rule changes that are absolutely necessary, Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Tyler Glasnow blamed his latest injury on somebody else.
Don’t you see? Over the years, baseball players have been known to say things like the game is bigger than all of us … but they don’t actually believe it. They believe they are the game. And to a certain extent they are right. But baseball players – like Glasnow – are now a big part of the problem in a sport that seems to have virus for which there is no vaccine.
It’s called egomania.
“Do it in the offseason. Give us a chance to adjust to it. But I just threw 80 innings, then you tell me I can’t use anything in the middle of the year,” Glasnow told reporters yesterday after being placed on the injured list with a partially torn elbow ligament that might end his season – and his next one. “I have to change everything I’ve been doing the entire season. I’m telling you I truly believe that’s why I got hurt.”
Is Glasnow right? Maybe, at least in part. Maybe not. But given the rampant use of products like Spider Tack – an industrial-strength adhesive that makes superglue look like chewing gum – MLB took a drastic step recently. The league banned the use of adhesives on the mound, something it should have done a long time ago. Is this further evidence that MLB is reactive rather than proactive, that the league only acts when problems are wildly out of control? Yes. And that is why baseball popularity is not just waning – it’s why it has waned. Past tense. Here in Boston, Red Sox television ratings have been almost cut in half since 2019.
Think about it. Baseball was late to address steroids. Baseball had a labor dispute in the middle of a pandemic. Baseball is just now acting on a problem – the use of adhesives – that has reached comical levels.
And you know what a significant part of the problem is? Guys like Glasnow, who seems like a perfectly decent and bright young man who nonetheless possesses a vanity that seemingly infects the body the moment someone puts on a major league cap. In 2015, for instance, former Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira was thrown out at the plate in the seventh inning of a game and blamed his third base coach, which is fine. After the game, he said this:
“That can’t happen; I’m sure it won’t ever happen again. I can get hurt; I’m not expecting a play at the plate. That’s a big run. There are a lot of reasons why that can’t happen.”
Read that again – particularly Teixeira’s first reason. I can get hurt. Seriously? With baseball players, you see, it’s always about injury. Or an invasion of privacy. Or their rights. When MLB wanted to introduce steroid testing roughly years ago, players claimed their privacy was being violated. (They were, of course, guilty.) They fight every rule change. Everything is a negotiation. For a group that claims that the game is bigger than all, they never remotely act like it.
In the case of Glasnow, his injury – like anyone else’s – is unfortunate. He’s a good pitcher. No one ever roots for anyone to get hurt. But the notion that he hurt his elbow from going cold turkey on adhesives – the latest in an injury-filled career for a man who has thrown 100 mph and possesses a wicked curveball – is hard to believe. Could it have contributed? Sure. But it also ignores his injury history and the widely accepted belief that arm injuries usually result from years of what the industry refers to as “wear and tear.” Glasnow used to throw in the mid-90’s. He made it a mission to increase his velocity. He wanted to grip-it-and-rip-it, then complained when he got hurt. Whine and cheese, though not necessarily in that order.
Look, I get it. A talented young man is upset because he has suffered yet another injury. He’s rightfully frustrated. But baseball players generally have a woe-is-me attitude that has become increasingly hard to stomach and is downright embarrassing at times.
Oh, and did we mention that MLB has been consulting teams, players and the players union for months about this expected change? The discussions on this topic, according to one major league source, go back to at least 2020. Glasnow and his peers could have started making adjustments before the season started. They didn’t. And has the union made any statement – any statement at all – as baseball has worked toward this latest step?
The obvious answer is no. And the reason is that MLB has consulted the union. And because the union has to represent hitters, too – maybe more so – while the pitchers are firing BB guns from 60 feet, six inches. (By the way, as baseball has toyed with the idea of moving the mound back one foot, know what the retort has been from the players? You guessed it: injuries.)
At the end of the day, we all know the problem here. Over the years, baseball players have believed they can and should get away with everything. There have been no consequences and penalties as they have bastardized a game that is now generally as boring as hell. They all throw at max effort, swing at max effort and, yes, whine at max effort. Hitters seem as likely to make contact with their faces as their bats. Players steal signs while managers, coaches and executives get punished. Analysts exacerbate the problem by emphasizing velocities and spin rates while effectively pushing adhesives as if they are street drugs.
All of this bring us back to Glasnow, who is merely the poster boy for this latest flap. It truly is unfortunate that he is hurt again. And I mean that. But he, like most players, is missing the point.
Nobody can ever, ever protect you from yourself.