All-Time Top 10 MLB Freak Injuries
July 16 Update: Thought we would bump this post to the front page in light of two more ridiculous freak MLB injuries to happen this week. And, boy, were they ridiculous. First, the San Diego Padres were forced to place young pitching phenom Mat Latos on the disabled list with a strain to his left side. Latos, one of the biggest reasons why the Padres are currently leading the National League West, sustained the injury while, wait for it, sneezing. Yes, sneezing, just like Sammy Sosa before him. The title of the article detaling the story on MLB.com, Sneeze lands Latos on disabled list, says it all.
Not to be outdone, Seattle Mariners designated hitter/first baseman Russell Branyan got in on the freak injury action this morning by injuring a toe after a coffe table fell on it. Branyan, recently reacquired by the Mariners to help an anemic offense, knocked over the table and it landed on his foot.
Here was the original entry from back in February, but in light of these examples, we may have to take another crack at the Top 10 MLB Freak Injuries at some point.
Pitchers and catchers reported to spring training just this week, but the early season has already brought two freak MLB injuries. First, Baltimore Orioles talented young right-handed starter Brad Bergesen injured his shoulder while filming a commercial for the team. Bergesen is now behind schedule and won’t throw off a mound for another few weeks. Then on Tuesday, we found out that San Francisco Giants first baseman Travis Ishikawa injured his foot by slipping on a flight of stairs.
In honor of the first two of what’ll surely be many freak MLB injuries to happen during the 2010 season, TAUNTR has gone back in history to highlight the stupidest injuries from year’s past. Here’s our top ten all-time worst freak MLB injuries list.
1. Marty Cordova misses a day with sunburn: Former major league outfielder Marty Cordova is best known for two things from his playing career. Above all else, Cordova will be remembered for winning the 1995 American League Rookie of the Year for the Minnesota Twins. He had an excellent rookie debut with the Twins, batting .277/.352/.486 with 24 home runs, 84 RBIs and a 115 OPS+ in 579 plate appearances. Although Cordova went on to have a fairly productive nine-season career (he finished with a lifetime 103 OPS+), though, he’ll also be known as the player who fell asleep in a tanning bed while with the Baltimore Orioles and missed a game as a result. I just can’t fathom how he could face his teammates after that. Why would a baseball player, being out in the sun so frequently, need to give a try at cancer in a box, anyway? It would be like if The Situation were a ballplayer. Cordova, it's worth mentioning, now works for the UFC.
2. Adam Eaton stabs himself: After signing a three-year, $24-million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies prior to the 2007 season, Adam Eaton caused a lot of pain for the team’s dedicated fan base. Back with the organization that originally drafted him, Eaton went just 14-18 with a horrendous 6.10 ERA before being cut by the Phillies. The club won the World Series in 2008 despite having to pay him millions for doing nothing.
However, with the second freak injury in our list, it’s hard to deny that Eaton inflicted more pain upon himself than he ever did to even the most passionate Fightin’ Phils fans for being a bust. Then pitching for the San Diego Padres back in June of 2001, the veteran right-hander accidentally stabbed himself in the stomach while trying to get the wrapper off a newly bought DVD. The Padres' winningest pitcher at the time, he then wasn't able to make his scheduled start against the Houston Astros. Eaton, by the way, is currently a free agent. But, if I were a GM, I wouldn’t want to sign a pitcher with a career ERA+ below 100 who’s also stabbed himself before. His career should be done now.
3. Kevin Mitchell donut: Kevin Mitchell bounced around to eight different teams over a productive 13-year major league career. During that time, Mitchell hit 234 home runs and posted an excellent career line of .284/.360/.520; seriously, with that line, it’s safe to say that he’s underrated. He also made one of the most memorable catches in baseball history, snaring down a fly ball with his bare hand. Growing up, the video of that catch was one of my favorite all-time highlights. However, Mitchell is also famous for a pair of freak injuries. He once strained a muscle while vomiting, but, even more notably broke a tooth while eating a stale donut that he’d put in the microwave for too long.
4. Sammy Sosa injures back sneezing: Those bleached skin Sammy Sosa photos gave us all a good laugh, but this next injury is even more likely to put a smile on your face. Still playing for the Chicago Cubs at the time, Sosa was forced to sit out a Sunday afternoon game against the San Diego Padres on May 17, 2004 because of back spasms. The real story, though, is how the back spasms were triggered. Although not the first player to have it happen to them (Hall of Famer Goose Gossage turned the trick as well), Slammin’ Sammy sustained the spasms after twice sneezing wildly in the clubhouse prior to the game.
Even Sosa was embarrassed by the injury, telling reporters that day: "It would have been better if I had hit off the wall or we have a fight or something, but this ... you know what I mean?" Sosa said. "What can you do? Some things in life you cannot control. This is strange that it happened."
5. Alfonso Soriano bunny hop: Until last season when his defense collapsed, Alfonso Soriano has been an above-average defender in left field for the Cubs. Although Soriano has pretty much been an asset with his glove, though, he has driven the Wrigley Field Faithful crazy with the stupid bunny hop he does before catching every fly ball in his direction. While annoying, the hop didn’t become a real issue until he strained his right calf in an April 2008 game because of it. He strongly denied that the hop was responsible for the injury, but it’s hard to take that claim seriously. It’s amazing, really. Soriano’s eight-year, $136-million contract is a tremendous burden on the Chicago franchise, but he somehow doesn’t get the flack that other overpaid stars do. In reality, the bunny hop man is one of the least tradable players in the majors.
6. Joel Zumaya guitar hero: This is perhaps the most famous recent example of a freak MLB injury. Detroit Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya tore onto the baseball scene as a 22-year-old rookie in 2006, lighting up radar guns around the league with an explosive 100 MPH-plus fastball. Zumaya established himself as one of the best relief arms in the game, posting a 1.94 ERA and 235 ERA+ in 83.1 innings pitched. He also racked up an impressive 97 strikeouts, helping the Tigers reach the postseason for the first time in ages. He was shut down with inflammation in his wrist and forearm during the American League Championship Series, however, missing three games. He famously sustained the injury by playing too much Guitar Hero for Playstation 2. Although Zumaya went on to pitch for Detroit in the World Series that October, he hasn’t been the same dominant force since. Whether or not the Guitar Hero injury is directly responsible, he has failed to eclipse the 30 appearance mark after making 62 back in ’06. As well, he hasn’t been nearly as effective, either.
7. Wade Boggs cowboy boots: Wade Boggs excelled at three things: getting on base, racking up hits and drinking lots of alcohol. Boggs, a member of the 3,000-hit club and one of the best third baseman of all time, also once strained his back while trying to put on a pair of cowboy boots.
8. Milton Bradley goes after umpire: We’ve already picked on Bradley enough at TAUNTR. In actuality, I love Bradley. He’s a fine hitter who’s often misunderstood from where I’m standing. But this injury is too ridiculous not to mention. Enjoying a fine campaign for the San Diego Padres back in 2007, Bradley’s season came to an unfortunate end when he tore his ACL arguing with an umpire. Now, the umpire clearly baited him, making the freak injury defensible. The ump, Mike Winters, yelled multiple insults at Bradley, receiving a suspension for his actions. Still, the Padres could’ve used one of their top hitters during their one-game playoff against the Colorado Rockies. Who knows? If Bradley doesn’t get hurt, perhaps that annoying Roctober campaign may have never happened.
9. Clint Barmes deer meat: Long before Troy Tulowitzki, it looked like the Rockies had a promising shortstop in Clint Barmes. Back in 2005, Barmes enjoyed an excellent rookie season. He won April Rookie of the Month and ended up hitting .289/.330/.434 with 10 homers, finishing eighth in the National League R.O.Y. voting. However, the rookie debut could’ve been even better if he wasn’t limited to just 82 games because of a broken collarbone that he suffered in June. Initially, he told reporters that the injury occurred after he fell while carrying groceries, which would’ve surely put him on this list for that alone. After coming clean, though, it came out that he really fell as he was lugging a package of heavy deer meat into his apartment; the meat was given to him by teammate and star first baseman Todd Helton, who he didn’t want to embarrass by telling the real story at first. Barmes has been a decent contributor for Colorado throughout his career, even appearing in 154 games in 2009. However, he has only posted a .300 on-base percentage or better once since the rookie campaign.
10. Glenallen Hill spiders: Retired outfielder Glenallen Hill is deathly afraid of spiders, suffering from arachnophobia. One night while dreaming that he was being covered in those eight-legged creatures, Hill jumped out of bed and fell onto a glass table. He was bruised terribly and suffered cuts and scrapes on his left arm and knee as a result. Hill admitted using PEDs in 2008, but apparently steroids don’t cure a fear of spiders.
Bonus freak injuries
Moise Alou treadmill: Moises Alou was a tremendous hitter, but he spent a large chunk of his excellent career on the disabled list. Famously, Alou missed the entire 1999 season with the Houston Astros after tearing the ACL in his knee by falling on a treadmill. While that was bad, I’ll just remember Alou as the guy who never wore batting gloves, instead choosing to pee on his hands to avoid blisters.
Hunter Pence glass door: Houston Astros outfielder Hunter Pence is extremely talented, but one can safely refer to his style of play as awkward. Pence is just kind of goofy, using an unorthodox batting stance and taking interesting routes to fly balls in the outfield. For that reason, it wasn’t surprising to learn about his freak injury during spring training in 2008. He missed action that spring after sustaining lacerations and cuts all throughout his body after falling through a sliding glass window.
Here’s what Pence told the Houston Chronicle’s Jose De Jesus Ortiz:
"It's pretty silly to have this kind of freak accident happen," he said. "I didn't really think I would go through a glass door. Normally it wouldn't shatter. But somehow it shattered and I was in the middle of a bunch of broken glass. I was actually very fortunate because none of the glass was stuck into my wounds."
Double Bonus, embarrassing injuries
These injuries aren’t the result of freak accidents, but they were surely embarrassing.
Adrian Beltre: The Boston Red Sox targeted Adrian Beltre this offseason because of his excellent third base defense. According to advanced fielding metrics, Beltre was the most valuable defensive third baseman in the American League in ’09. But he also missed significant time due to injuries, one of which happened to be a torn testicle. So confident in his abilities to catch the ball, Beltre never wore a cup until last August. Which was incredibly ballsy, you could say. He paid the price after taking only bad hop, though, leading to this interesting note in the daily transactions column: Seattle Mariners 3B Adrian Beltre sent to 15-day disabled list with ruptured testicle.
Kaz Matsui: This is the opening paragraph of an Astros.com article about a Kaz Matsui injury from March of 2008.
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Second baseman Kazuo Matsui will undergo surgery Monday morning at the Methodist Hospital in Houston to repair an anal fissure, the Astros announced Friday evening.
Yes, Matsui missed time with an anal fissure. Wikipedia says that a fissure is a natural crack or tear in the skin of the anal canal. Hope the injury didn’t come from using one of these.
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