Monday, July 25, 2011

Rushin to Conclusions On Baseball Injuries

Ya know who does a really good job of finding the oddity and the humor in the language of baseball?

Sadly, no--not Batter Chatter.

Steve Rushin of Sports Illustrated, that's who.

Rushin of course penned a weekly SI column for years, before departing to marry Rebecca Lobo and write a few books ("It's the wordplay—not the alcohol consumption—that drives the novel," Publishers Weekly said of his latest, The Pint Man.)

Rushin now writes an online column called Rushin Lit, and is at it in the new SI with an essay called Name That Pain, which pokes fun at the bizarre contortions pro sports teams go through to cover up personnel injuries. (Hey Time Warner--thanks for making me jump through hoops to dig up my password and "confirmation code" to access the story online, only to give up and find it through Google.)

Rushin writes:
Sports injuries used to come in six basic flavors: charley horse, raspberry, bruise, sprain, break and pull. (The pull had two subsidiary options: groin and hammy.) But somewhere along the line, breaks became fractures, cuts became lacerations and bruises became contusions. These contusions bred confusion, as they were designed to do.

All the major sports are guilty of purposely obfuscating injury reports (Bill Belichick of course treats Patriots injury reports like classified Cold War documents), but Rushin suggests baseball
takes it to a new level.

He writes:

In 2006, Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon was diagnosed with a "transient subluxation event in the setting of a fatigued shoulder." At the time manager Terry Francona said of the transient subluxation, "It sounds like the guy who lives under the bridge." This summer, though, when Sox shortstop Jed Lowrie left a game after aggravating his injured left shoulder, Francona said, "He felt that there was a mild subluxation." The phrase has entered the baseball lexicon.

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