Wednesday, December 09, 2009

When Playing Hurt is Rational and Irrational All at Once

I would like to call Manny Delcarmen an idiot. I really would: because he pitched secretly hurt for half the season, he looked like he had completely lost his edge, and made us question whether or not he belonged on the team. After all, a healthy Manny Delcarmen may not make the difference between a first-round exit and a World Series victory, but he's still a piece of that all-so-important functioning bullpen and therefore responsible for an additional win or two.

So I would love to blame him, but I can't: if an athlete in 2009 feels like they have to hide their injury, it's a symptom of a larger social problem, where players are so worried about looking they have the competitive spirit that they sacrifice health for the game and make themselves less effective in the process. It's an irrational stance to take, which is why it bothers me: in a perfect world (in my head, anyway), players would not play when they were hurt and people would not judge them for lacking the competitive spirit. Alas, this perfect world does not exist, so we have the next flawed thing: a player has to make the decision about whether or not it's more important to be judged by their competitive ability or their health and some - like Delcarmen - choose competitive ability over health as a rational decision and end up losing both.