Brewers reliever Will Smith has many talents. Apparently, taking off his shoes is not one of them. Smith tore a ligament in his knee while removing his cleats the other day, telling reporters, "I pulled hard (on the shoe) and it stayed on. My knee just went up and popped." Weird. Always untie your shoes first, kids.
Smith, who is utterly dominant when he has his cleats on, will be out for what Craig Counsell says is "significant time," and may require surgery. Smith represented Milwaukee's best trade chit, and could have been a really great player to move at the deadline this year for the rebuilding club. All of that seems pretty up in the air for the moment.
Then beads...wait, no, bees attacked Jason Heyward, stinging him more than 20 times and briefly turning him into Will Smith (no, the other one):
UPDATE: And now, we learn that Matt Harvey was on the verge of being held out of Opening Day because of a bladder infection that led to blood clots in his bladder, caused by holding in his pee for too long between bathroom breaks.
Anyway, Smith, Heyward, and Harvey's misfortunes give us the opportunity to remember some of the craziest off-the-field injuries in baseball history. We'll limit ourselves to injuries that resulted in missing actual major league games, so sadly, we won't be talking about the time Hunter Pence walked through a closed sliding glass door. Anyway, here they are, in reverse chronological order:
2013 - Carl Pavano
Pavano was still looking for work coming off of a bad and injury-plagued 2012 when he was shoveling his driveway over the winter. He slipped and fell, jamming the shovel's handle into his abdomen. Though it hurt like hell, Pavano didn't go to the doctor for another four days, when he felt "a sudden wave of abdominal pain and nausea. He had lacerated his spleen and was bleeding internally the whole time. His lung collapsed. He was rushed to surgery where doctors removed his spleen entirely, and had six and a half liters of blood drained from his chest cavity. He subsequently retired and has, hopefully, since bought a snowblower.
2012 - Jonathan Lucroy
The list of players injured by their suitcases is long and includes Dennis Martinez in 1992, Rick Aguilera in 1996, and Jonathan Lucroy in 2012. Most of these are back or shoulder problems. Lucroy's is probably the most interesting, however, because it's a broken hand. Apparently reaching for a sock under the bed, Lucroy didn't see his wife messing with the suitcases on his bed. One fell directly onto him. He tried to hide the injury, but was unable to grip a bat.He wound up on the DL for several weeks.
2010 - Geoff Blum
Utility infielder Geoff Blum somehow lasted parts of 14 years in the majors despite not being a good shortstop and having a career OPS+ of 81. That's only slightly more amazing than the fact that he was put on the DL for an injury he suffered while putting on a shirt. Blum was defensive, "There are probably 90 percent of us in the big leagues that have loose bodies floating around. I just so happens that after the game, it tightened up on me. The shirt had nothing to do with the damn injury." Ok buddy. He went on the DL.
2006 - Joel Zumaya
Nobody has ever been more snakebit than Joel Zumaya, the flamethrowing Tigers reliever whose body was simply never meant to do more than sit in front of a desk all day. His weirdest injury, by far, happened during the playoffs in 2006, when the rookie strained his wrist by playing too much Guitar Hero. As a Fallout fan, I sympathize. My thumbs are sore.
2002 - Marty Cordova
Maybe the Orioles were playing a lot of night games in early 2002, but Marty Cordova was apparently frustrated by how pale he was becoming. So he went tanning. Unfortunately, given that his job kept him up late, he was also very tired. So he fell asleep in the tanning bed, burning his face so badly that doctors advised him to stay out of the sun for a few days. Cordova sat out for one game, DH'ed, and then sat out again.
1994 - Steve Sparks
Some people look at a phone book and would never try to rip it in half, because that seems like a waste of a perfectly good phone book (kids, phone books are those giant books that you throw straight into the recycling bin when you get them; they used to be a thing). Some people look at a phone book as a mountain that must be climbed or a jungle that must be tamed. Steve Sparks belongs to this latter group, as he attempted to rip a Yellow Pages in twain during Spring Training, and only succeeded in separating his shoulder. He did not make the club. Ma Bell 1, Steve Sparks 0.
1993 - Rickey Henderson
In addition to being one of the greatest ballplayers in the history of baseball, Rickey is also one of the most talked about. If you think of your Mount Rushmore of guys who are the subject of the best baseball anecdotes, it basically boils down to Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Yogi Berra, and Rickey. One of my favorites happened in August of 1993, just after he was traded to the Blue Jays, when he fell asleep with an ice pack on his foot. He suffered frostbite and was out for three games.
1990 - Glenallen Hill
Hill showed up at the ballpark on crutches in early July, with bruises, cuts, and rugburn on his feet, legs, and elbows. The night before, he claimed to have had a nightmare, "I have a phobia about spiders. In the nightmare, I was trying to get away from spiders. In his sleep, he ran out of his bedroom, crashed through a glass table, and "bounced off a wall." He woke up on his couch with his wife screaming. He was placed on the disabled list. The previous year, Jays pitcher David Wells had a similar issue, putting his hand through a window while sleepwalking and requiring five stitches to fix the thumb on his left hand, which is kind of important for a pitcher. No word on what Wells was dreaming about.
1983 - George Brett
The Royals had managed to get themselves above .500 by early June, struggling to keep pace with the Chicago White Sox. It was an off day and Brett was at home doing laundry and watching the Cubs game on WGN, like most right-thinking Americans in 1983. "I heard Harry Caray in the next room mention Bill Buckner was coming to bat," he told reporters. "I've been a Bill Buckner fan for a long time, and he's a good friend and I wanted to see what he did. So I kind of jogged into the room real quick. You know how it is, everybody does it about once a week. I kicked the side of the door jam. I loked down at my toe and it was sticking out kind of funny." He had broken his toe, went on the DL, and missed 19 games. Weirdly, when he came back, the Royals tried him in the outfield before things went back to normal.
1904 - Malachi Kittridge
This story may be apocryphal, but it was reported in the Pittsburgh Press at the time and it's so fun I can't not include it. The Washington Senators were run at the time by a bungling vice president named William Dwyer. According to the Press, probably because of the team's financial problems, Dwyer started paying all the players in cash. And not just in large bills. Third baseman Bill Coughlin received his entire salary of $200 entirely in one dollar bills. Kittridge, who was the team's catcher had been its player-manager until it started 1-16, wasn't so lucky. Dwyer paid him his $300 "mostly in dimes and nickels, so Malachi said. He carried his load in his pockets until he sprained an ankle, and that was the beginning of Malachi's troubles. Because of this lameness, Kittridge missed the train out of New York by six inches. With a hook he could have caught the rear platform at that, but he was too lame, and, besides, the curse of wealth held him back. From this mishap grew the complications which led to the suspension of the coin-laden catcher." God, the old days were great/awful.
Feel free to bring up/argue for better examples of ridiculous baseball injuries in the usual place (that place being the comment section).