Last week, Rany Jazayerli, blogger and baseball propeller-head of note, went after longtime Royals trainer Nick Swartz, stopping just shy of ripping out the man's heart and waving it at the sun. The team didn't take this so well.
Jazayerli, who describes himself as a "dermatologist by day, baseball writer by night, pathetic Royals fan all the time," is no mere fan blogger. He's a co-founder of Baseball Prospectus, and he's done admirable work on the study of pitcher abuse. He knows whereof he speaks, and when he speaks like this, in a raging 3,000-word indictment of the way the Royals handle and mishandle injuries, the organization would do well to pay attention. The Royals, being the Royals, did no such thing. Today, Jazayerli writes:
I was just informed last night that I've been blacklisted by the team. That's right: I've been banned by the Royals! The way this team is playing, I'm not sure if the Royals are trying to punish me or reward me.
Which he later clarified a little:
I don't think I've been "banned" in the sense that they're going to have security guards outside the stadium making sure that I don't buy a ticket. It does mean that the Royals have cut off any access I may have from the team for my radio show, and - this is critical - have intimated that any other radio show which has me on as a guest faces the same penalty.
This is obviously the Royals' right, but go back and read Jazayerli's initial post, which is maybe nasty only to the extent that he holds up Swartz (and only Swartz) as a symbol for what is pretty clearly an organizational flaw. He documents three egregious examples in which the team seemed to underplay, if not ignore, the extent of a player's injury, leading — in Jazayerli's mind — to more catastrophic injuries. Here he is on Coco Crisp, who recently underwent season-ending shoulder surgery:
I don't know about you, but to me, the handling of Coco Crisp's shoulder injury is by itself a fireable offense. Crisp was playing – terribly, mind you – with a bum shoulder FOR FIVE WEEKS, and even after his shoulder pain became severe enough that he could no longer play, the Royals kept shuffling him in and out of the lineup for three weeks, putting him back out there as soon as the pain became tolerable again.
But the pain didn't go away. It only got worse, and presumably his shoulder only got worse. The question that no one can answer is whether, five weeks ago, Crisp already had a torn labrum, or whether the injury occurred while trying to play through the inflammation. We can't answer it, but we sure as hell can speculate. As far as I'm concerned, the Royals' ham-fisted approach to Coco Crisp's shoulder turned an injury which might have healed with a few weeks of rest into a season-ender.
This is all very damnable stuff, and at this point, an angry gadfly like Jazayerli should be the least of the Royals' concerns. The team evidently thinks this is a public relations matter. It's not. If Jazayerli is right, it's a medical malpractice suit waiting to happen.