Friday, September 11, 2009

Day-to-Day, The Worst Words on the Planet

I honestly can't think of a reasonable expression I would want to hear LESS than John Doe is "day to day." John is healthy enough to get up, shower, shave, take some batting practice, but there's a gaping question mark next to his status for the game. John's a Big Leaguer and a consummate pro, so he'll likely be in that starting lineup, if he's a position player, or down in that bullpen, or taking his warmup tosses on the mound here in the first inning.

But John's not quite right. He sure is proud, though; strong of will, but creaky of lumbar; his mechanics altered so subtly, but enough to put stress on other, less sore parts of his frame. John is trying to keep that fastball at the knees, or keep his left knee from barking when he swings, or that darn blister from bursting.

So it goes with the professional athlete -- he is weak if he takes a day off, foolhardy if he plays through the pain. Hanley Ramirez was called out by his teammate (All Star stone-fisted 2nd-baseman Dan Uggla) earlier this week for "not playing with enough fire" because he missed a game and doesn't grit his teeth when he swings the bat. Brandon Inge is insulted, maybe even villified as he tries to play through blinding knee pain and his batting average suffers. It isn't fair, everybody knows it, and it's not going to change.

I'm not here to tell you to give these guys a break. This is what they do for a living, so if you want to call them babies or arrogant pricks, be my guest. I'll be doing it right alongside you, because it's fun, and because it's part of what comes with making 7 or 8-figure salaries. I'm here to tell you that, while betting is hugely enjoyable, it's NEVER worth the risk to put your money on a guy that feels the burden of that damn phrase: "day to day."

I suppose examples are better proof than just me prattling on, and fortunately, we only have to turn the clock back about 15 hours to last night's Braves-Astros game. All day long, we hunted for word on Roy Oswalt's lower back. He was still listed as the starting pitcher, so he MUST be okay, right? Finally, word comes out around 5pm that Oswalt was pulled from his previous start not because of his lower back, but because of a persistent cough. Something seems fishy. Roy proceeds to surrender 6 runs in 2 innings to the punchless Braves. Try as you might, you will not convince me that a healthy Roy Oswalt gives up 6 runs in 2 innings to anybody.

How about Johnny Cueto's series of miserable starts from mid-June through the beginning of August. The report every week was that Cueto had recovered from stiffness in his back, and every week he got shellacked in the first inning, loosened up over his first 30-40 pitches, then, if he could last until the 3rd, generally pitched to an acceptable level after that point.

But I ramble.

Be very careful when relying on a player with a nagging injury. Believe me, IF the player is in the starting lineup, the report from the team will ALWAYS say that he's healthy. Think of it mathetmatically. You're already wagering on a game that only 1 of 2 teams can win. It's almost as if you're parlaying that wager with a bet on the health of the starting pitcher, effectively cutting your chances of winning in half without any added payout!

For my peace of mind, if you're "day to day," you're not on my card until tomorrow.

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