Thursday, July 19, 2012

When 'giving it your all' is giving too much

In an all too predictable scene from last night's Blue Jays game, Brett Lawrie leaped over a guard-rail, Superman-like, to catch a fly ball in Yankee stadium, banging his leg on a smaller railing as he came crashing back to the Earth. (Not that it really matters, but he didn't make the catch.) It doesn't look particularly ugly at first. And then it does with the benefit of a slowed replay and a better angle:


To quote the YES network commentators, Lawrie is one of those guys who "gives it their all". And according to Kevin Kaduk with Yahoo Sports, Lawrie "came away with...the respect of those who happened to be watching". But from all the comments I've read, Dirk Hayhurst comes closest to hitting the nail on the head...:

Let's make sure that this is perfectly clear: it isn't a coincidence that Lawrie is both a guy who 'gives it his all' and that he hurt himself, nor should we bemoan how unfortunate it is that such an accident and injury would befall someone who plays so recklessly. (Much less pay him respect for doing so.) It is, in fact, entirely foreseeable, and the injury is the direct result of his overly-intense style of play. And it shouldn't be encouraged.

Because it was also entirely avoidable. What's lacking from the discourse surrounding the injury is any discussion of, frankly, Lawrie's stupidity. Jumping into a concrete camera bay - a concrete camera pit, no less, because it looks like it's recessed from field-level by about 2 feet - is an undeniably stupid thing to do. And we shouldn't lament his accident, praise his vigour, or give him our "respect" when he does things that are unnecessarily dangerous. Instead, we need to hold him accountable, because in hurting himself he also hurts his teammates.

I'll admit that this looks cool, but, seriously,
it's also just completely unnecessary. Photo by the AP.

It's customary, when players are accused of the opposite problem - of playing too lackadaisically, of not running-out a ground ball, not playing hard when the game isn't close - to bench them. (Sometimes, this strategy is misused - like when a player fails to run on a play that's an automatic-out 99% of the time in an 8-0 game. But, sometimes, it makes a lot of sense.) And Lawrie, as a result of his own carelessness, is very likely to miss a game or two. That's maybe something, a de facto suspension, if you will.

But I'm not sure that's good enough. Players get benched for hurting the team because they don't try hard enough - why not bench Lawrie because he hurt the team by trying too hard? (No, seriously.) For his own good, even. Because if someone isn't able to convince him that, occasionally, it's just fine to ease up, he's not going to be long for this sport. And that's bad news for anyone and everyone who's associated with or simply likes the Toronto Blue Jays

1 comment:

neilshyminsky said...

I should add that the one possible defense of this play might be that the game was close or that this play was particularly important. But neither is true - assuming the teams are evenly matched, Win Probability says the Yankees were already 87.7% likely to win. (Making the out would drop that likelihood by about 1%; when Texeira reached base with a single, it went up about 1% instead.) Further, the Leverage Index - which marks the importance/impact of that at-bat, in terms of its potential ability to affect the end-result - was 0.25, which is near-meaningless. (An average at-bat is a 1, and a higher score means it's more meaningful.)

So, to add insult to injury (literally!), it was a completely pointless effort.