So Braden Looper finally fessed up about what a lot of people connected to our team suspected: He's been battling a shoulder injury. He'll have surgery. But here's the catch: He's been battling it since last September.
Gory details here: Looper thought the pain would go away on its own (or maybe he didn't want to tell those butchering morons from the NYU Medical Center), found out it was the AC joint in late winter, and then decided not to have surgery, since the six-week recovery time could have sidelined him into April. Then he just dealt with it, becoming more and more ineffective.
Well, Jesus Christ. I mean, what the fuck? Dude, tell your agent — apparently this a pretty common injury for pitchers, meaning somebody might have figured out what was wrong earlier. Tell a doctor, provided he or she doesn't work for the NYU Medical Center. And if you do go into the season with an injury that then won't go away, tell the goddamn manager. It's important to remember none of us saw Roberto Hernandez as much more than Mike Matthews or Felix Heredia in spring training, so the cry of “Roberto could have started the season as closer!” is 20/20 hindsight. But still — what if Looper had gotten the shoulder cleaned up in May or June? Could that have made a difference in September?
Shutting your mouth and playing hurt seems so macho, but it can kill a team. Particularly if it means a groundball pitcher has trouble getting the ball down in the zone. Looper — universally praised as a stand-up guy who takes his media licks — has taken pains to say he's not using the injury as an alibi for his poor season. He shouldn't worry: I'm much more pissed at him now than I was when I just thought he was having a crap year.
By the way: This sucked too. Why didn't Willie bat for Trachsel in the 4th, when it was 5-2 and we had a runner on? Why didn't he bat for Ishii — a guy who's not going to be on the team next year, and about whom nothing more needs to be discovered — in the 6th, when it was 7-3? Instead of trying to chip away, he conceded both innings to avoid taxing a rather full bullpen. Why manage like it's July when you're in Game #158? Inexplicable.
Update, from Adam Rubin in the Daily News: “Looper had trouble with the AC joint late last season, but the organization's former medical staff did not advocate surgery.” Incredible. The only thing left for NYU Medical Center is to reveal that they performed brain surgery on Roberto Alomar and just might have accidentally nicked the parts of his cerebellum that govern desire and leadership.