By Jason Wojciechowski on April 16, 2013 at 8:08 AM
Late in last night's game, Coco Crisp ran hard to third base, rounded the bag, saw Mike Gallego's stop sign, and retreated. He then grabbed his junk. This was, of course, the exact situation that Bob Melvin had foreseen when he said that he wanted to be sure Crisp was 100 percent before he came back from his injury: having to go hard on a fly ball or on the bases, not being able to protect his groin from being put in a compromising position.
Now, Susan Slusser's game recap says that Crisp was pulled "as a precaution on the cold evening," not that he re-injured anything, so maybe grabbing his junk is just what Crisp does? He does seem like a junkgrabber, though I confess that in these years of watching him, I haven't actually been able to determine whether he is one or not.
But never let the facts get in the way of the point you want to make, which is this: visibility on whether decisions around injuries are right or wrong is really bad. If you're in a front office, you can at least analyze the process—
- did the trainer ask the right questions?
- have the trainer and manager developed a relationship with the player such that the player will be honest?
- did the manager understand the trainer's input?
- did the manager apply the trainer's conclusions in a logical way, weighing the balance of this game vs. future games?
- did the manager properly deploy the depth on his roster to cover for this eventuality?
Even a front office, though, faces a basic epistemological question:1 if a player played when he shouldn't have but doesn't get hurt, how do you know that he shouldn't have? If a player doesn't play when he should have, how do you know that he should have? You can use your process-based inquiries to try to get an idea of your manager being overly cautious or throwing players to the wind and getting lucky, but you can't really know. Nor can you really know if a manager has just been unlucky if he has multiple recurring injuries. Again, you can see when he's not getting the right information or not understanding the information correctly from the trainer or the player, but sometimes [stuff] happens even to the best of processes, and a team has to be careful not to lay that at the manager's feet.
All of this would have been more timely and more interesting had it turned out that Crisp actually did pull his groin coming into third base, and it's always possible that everybody's lying (I've never understood why teams would be open about injuries to reporters and the public—what purpose does it serve?), but it's something to keep in mind anyway when the A's get to the end of Yoenis Cespedes's 15 days on the disabled list and they're deciding whether to give him an extra day or two to get fully 100 percent totally ready. We don't know and the team doesn't know what the right answer is.
I think it's epistemological, anyway. People who actually know philosophy words can correct me. I don't mind. ↩