I shouldn’t waste my time with this, but it irks me when columnists for major media organizations fail to do basic research. Here’s Sally Jenkins in the Washington Post writing in a column about how pro sports teams take losing the wrong way, or something like that.
For evidence of this, look no further than the New York Yankees, who just fired a lowly trainer as a scapegoat for their April losing streak and rash of injuries. It’s a fair guess that 90 percent of the players in the Yankee clubhouse have their own trainers. But someone had to pay for the team’s terrible spring and seven-game slump. Losing, George Steinbrenner announced, was “unacceptable.” Marty Miller’s firing was the penalty, and oddly, the Yankees had won three straight before losing last night. Steinbrenner is a genius! Bat boys and laundry room attendants beware — you could be next.
Not quite. You see, the trainer’s program was actively injuring the Yankee players.
Interviews with players over the past couple weeks yielded many complaints, starting with a contention that not enough running was done during spring training. And when running was done, there was a question of the timing. Chien-Ming Wang‘s hamstring pull occurred while running start-and-stop sprints after a long day of practice.
Andy Pettitte hasn’t missed a start since suffering a worse-then-advertised back injury late in spring, which occurred after he was instructed by one of Miller’s underlings not to wear his customary belt while lifting, a decision even Roger Clemens ripped from afar during a spring interview. But the story gets worse. Clubhouse sources indicate Pettitte informed Miller’s underling that he felt something while working out, and rather than shut Pettitte down for the day, the pitcher was requested to do two more exercises.
It’s more than a coincidence that all those Yankee pitchers were getting hurt, and the team fired the guy responsible. It could be a scapegoat situation, too, but the firing wasn’t exactly undeserved.
Beyond that, the main point Jenkins makes — pro atheletes hate losing — is pretty unremarkable.