Peter Hyatt - Travis D' Arnaud and Injuries Considered


Travis D'Anaud's talent and injury history has been a study in frustration leading to an open question:

What is it about some athletes that they are chronically injured?

This question is wrestled over by sports psychologists and warrants clarity for context. 

It is not about repeat injuries within a body weakness, nor is it repeat injuries due to sport specific trauma, such as front line head injuries in football.

The question is limited to top level elite athletes with no perceivable bodily weakness who gets injured in different ways, consistently, year after year. 

This is a good description of Travis D'Arnaud, once the jewel of the RA Dickey, Cy Young Winner Year,  trade. 

As much as I loved Dickey, I applauded the trade at the time. It made a great deal of sense to me to flip RA (my family howled) to get younger.  

When Noah Syndergaard developed even further, the trade looked brilliant.  

Behind the study of the incessantly injured athlete, there is a premise that is considered rather than someone with just really bad luck. 

It is the theory that the athlete does things, ever so subtly (not "sub" consciously as this, itself, is debatable) that puts him in position to be injured.  In this sense, it is the "self sabotage" that people sometimes engage in as they wrestle with unresolved issues.  

Plainly, this can be seen in the teenager who, abused early in childhood, acts out in a way that literally sabotages his own future.  

Jump ahead to the extreme pressure of elite sports and it is that some athletes appear to have a deep inner fear, so acute, that it leads them to do certain things that may result in injury.  

What makes this hard to understand is that non athletes do not realize that at this elite level, the only difference between a AAA player and a major league is measurements done in micro or mini degrees. 

The ever so slightly difference between a 78 mph curveball that is jettisoned 400 feet and the 78 mph curveball that causes a batter to corkscrew himself into the ground may be the ever so slight spin rotation, which may come from  the ever so slightest difference in a single part of the finger's pressure upon the ball.  

Hockey great Eric Lindros is one such athlete that psychologists wondered about.  He was so physically dominant that he once picked up, off the ice, Mark Messier and tossed him aside. 

The injuries that puzzled psychologists were not so much the concussions, but others that, in this elite and extremely tough athlete, led him to missing ice time almost his entire career.  

It was wondered why this extreme talent and strong tough guy, could never bring the ultimate victory to his team, even when surrounded by stars.  

The unanswered question is this:

Did an underlining fear of failure somehow lead Eric Lindros to experience injuries?

This is the same question asked about other athletes; those who experience freak but incessant injuries and never allow them to fully "prove" their value and reach their potential.  

That we do it professionally and personally is not terribly debated.  We all have some degree of fear and we all take steps to protect ourselves.  Some are more cautious than others.  Some take educated and balanced risks, and yet some of us take reckless risks which can, over time, appear to be self defeating, or "self sabotaging" of our own happiness in life.  

Travis D'Arnaud does not even know what it is like to play a full season of professional baseball. 

Travis D'Arnaud takes a foul tip off his hand and breaks a bone.  

It is very likely given his strength that his calcium levels and bone strength are superb.  Yet, was this just a freak accident, or did he, on some level, expose his hand, ever so slightly?

Each season of D'Arnaud's professional life he has gone down with this or that injury. 

True enough, catchers get battered and are, by nature, a tough bunch.  

Yet, is it now something we can safely predict for the upcoming seasons that the New York Mets should not count on Travis D'Arnaud being the regular catcher due to unforeseen injuries?

(remember, this precludes any physical predisposition or positional risk).  

D'Arnaud is considered a psychological net positive in the club house.  He is well liked, a team first man, and quietly supportive of others.  It is said that he and Rene Rivera, another net positive, are helpful of each other while competing.  Both men are seen as good influences on younger players.  

Kevin Plawecki is now hitting .320 at Vegas. 

Is this the atmospheric effect or has he finally figured it out?

He has never taken advantage of his time at MLB but in his defense, under the Alderson/Collins regime, he has never been in favor and was never given the psychological state of:

"hey, this is your position and you will be in the line up even if you slump" that many major league ball players need.  

What about Cespedes' pre season work out?  Is this not the cause of his leg injuries?

Yes and No.  

Yes, in the sense that which you read early on is finally being picked up by media.  Doing 900 lbs on the leg press machine was a tremendous negative, both that as a machine, it isolates many of the "supportive" muscles necessary for overall balance, but it also focuses upon hypertrophy, which, at this level, is ego driven.  

So, "yes", when you see Cespedes come up lame, he caused it with this workout and he causes it with his head; he likes to be seen as "cool", that is "casual, unalarmed, disinterested" on many plays, so he refuses to be a "foot soldier" and hustle down the line.  Then, he has to suddenly sprint, which the supportive muscles do not handle.  (this is the same with Noah Syndergaard's quest to be Thor, in his chest muscles).  

So, in this sense, he is his worst enemy but this does not fall into the realm of the almost sub conscious sabotaging.  

It gets closer, however.  

You read here before the season that a Mets insider reported that when Cespedes slumps, he will claim injury.  He is this frail. 

With all the talent in the world, the biggest contract in Flushing, he still needs both attention and an available excuse for failure.  

He dresses himself up (immodesty) with colors, jewelry and protective highly decorated equipment, and he does deliberately pose and play "casual" (for the effect) but...

think of why the insider reported what has been, thus far, evident regarding the injury excuse.  

He is protecting the fragility which can be traced back to an extreme fear of failure.  

In Cespedes' case, it is much more acute than what may be in others.  Cespedes is not so much afraid of fans not seeing him as "El Hombre", but something much more serious:

He appears to fear to allow himself to be seen as a failure.  

Neil Walker is on assignment to play in the minors, X amount of games, X amount of at bats, and X amount of innings to know that his leg muscle is healed.  

This is norm. 

Neil Walker came to NY in a tough role; having to replace the not only wildly popular Daniel Murphy but also the legend of Murph's post season Ruthonian Home Run streak.  

This is some challenge.

Walker is considered another positive influence upon the Mets, as a whole, and has quietly played through injuries; injuries that did not get reported and that he will not use as an excuse.  No ground ball will ever get the "it hit a rock" excuse in his world.  

This is something, in spite of what Cespedes claims through interpreters, that Ces does not do. 

Cespedes refused his rehabilitation assignment.  Cespedes did his own work out program.  Cespedes would not allow himself minor league at bats.  

This is not simply open rebellion against his employer; it is a powerful defense mechanism to protect him against fear of failure.  "El Hombre" is "above" minor leaguers.  (This was the basis of his trouble in Boston).  

I don't believe it is just a rebellious nature, but due to fear of failure. 

When we do such things, we expose ourselves and the foolishness becomes evident to all around us, but ourselves.  

Like the young kid so afraid of failing a major test, he does not study the night before, so he has a ready-to-use excuse for himself later, Cespedes is desperate to protect himself. 

What did the life long Cuban citizen tell his manager his reason for limping at second base, while Howie Rose was holding him accountable for on radio?

Ces said the heat and humidity did it.  

It hit a rock.  

Travis D'Arnaud makes no such excuses.  He works hard and is either snake bitten (bad luck) or he is physically predisposed to injury...or it is something else. 

Is he is psychologically sabotaging himself?

Eric Lindros played among the earth's toughest athletes in hockey players.  They pride themselves on playing through ridiculous injuries, including broken bones, concussions, loss of teeth and so on.  Excused from the bench, they go into the back, get stitched up and barely miss a shift.  After the game, they guard their prized possession legs by going on an exercise bike for 30 minutes, just to reduce the lactic acid build up.  

I don't know if either player is in that funk of subtly putting themselves into positions where injuries can happen, or not, but in looking at ourselves, as men, we share common human nature which has fear. 

Some of us, as children, may have been told, "you can do this!" and pushed further on in life, while others, not as fortunate, may have remembered these bitter lessons and became good fathers who imparted masculine confidence into our sons.

Gerry Cooney made it all the way to the elite level of fighting Larry Holmes, the heavyweight boxing champion of the world.  

Cooney went into the fight acutely aware of the criticism against him:  he had never gone long in a bout.  He was determined to...

not knock out the more highly skilled Holmes, early on, with a left hook from hades. 

He would "prove" his critics wrong by hanging in there round after round. 

He took a terrible beating and eventually lost in spite of a gallant effort. 

What did he say when he lost?

What were the first words that came out of his mouth?

Consider this:  when I ask you, "What did you do today?", your brain will:

1.  Go into experiential memory to decide which info to use and which (endless supply) not to
2.  In possession of an internal dictionary of more than 25,000 words, choose which words to use;
3.  What order to give the info
4.  Place which words next to other words (syntax) to make sense
5.  Decide what tenses of each words to use

All of this processing takes place in less than a millisecond of time. 

This is Deception Detection 101. 

It is not likely that after the night of beating Cooney took, he would work from a prepared script.  

What did his brain tell his tongue to tell the entire world watching via satellite about this loss?

He talked about his father telling him he was a failure.  

Cooney went on to sabotage his career and life with cocaine and trouble, much like we have seen in other elite athletes, especially those dear to us as Met fans. 

I hope that Travis has been snake bit with bad luck and that the streak of DL dwelling will come to an end and we may finally see some power from his bat. 
He worked diligently on his defense and it is...well, it is what it is.  

D'Arnaud does not like the attention when injured.  This is different, very different, than the stroll taken by Terry Collins all the way out to Left Field, this year, where the 68 year old has to cover a lot of ground because Cespedes will stand still or meander a few steps towards him.  D'Arnaud's face turns red when the trainer and Collins step out. 


Is it time to see if Plawecki can translate Vegas success to Flushing?

We know that Collins is not one to play kids; not at his age and not with his camaraderie and loyalty to vets in the clubhouse.  This is where he has failed in leadership, acting more like a cheerleader.  With Cespedes, Harvey, Syndergaard, Reyes and Cabrera, Terry Collins has even denigrated into an embarrassing apologist.  

Considered a good man, this is something that must eat away at him.  

Another question:

Can athletes who may be engaging in self-sabotaging behavior be reached?

This begins with Matt Harvey. 

He has used his intelligence to manipulate those around him.  In other words, he knows how to say the right things as long as he stays in script.  

Yet, when he enters "the free editing process" (where a reporter gets him to talk and move away from script), we get very different information.  

Its a tough call. 

Gooden and Strawberry both had tough childhoods. 

Statistics tell us that boys raised without fathers are x times more likely to experience many troubles in life including substance abuse, poverty, delinquency and are up to 11 times more likely to be incarcerated before age 30.  The statistics are without regard to race.  

Others experience difficulty because they were not dominated by absentee fathers, but by abusive, negligent, or otherwise overly critical fathers.  

Whatever the genesis, there is an element of self sabotaging of success that men and women engage in, even when not overtly conscious of it. 

I was once interviewing someone for an investigator's position.  She said, "I have wanted this my whole life."

In this screening process, a simple Questionnaire is used in which, for example, applicants are asked to "Tell us everything you want us to know about yourself; Use Full Page" among other things.  

She gave a short answer and skipped two of the questions entirely.  

She had, her whole life, worked for this position.  I believed her. She had studied in specific ways to be qualified, at least, on paper.  

I said, "Why didn't you fill out the Questionnaire completely?"

I didn't so much ask this, but said it. 

She was quiet for a bit and sadly said,

"I think I've always sabotaged my own happiness."  

She politely excused herself, ending the interview process with telling me, "I'll figure this out."

I thought to myself, "I bet she will" as I admired her self honesty.  


Mack Ade said...

It seems to me that sports that have players wearing protective wear have less injuries.

Other than TDA.

Thomas Brennan said...

I think our catcher this year has been mostly healthy and healthy for a while. His lack of Greater playing time has been due to Renee Rivera hitting as well as he has and being a better defensive catcher. Darnell really hasn't been terrible this year offensively, it's really the defense that comes up short. I think he is yet another guy who we'll take the whole year to better evaluate. Pardon any misspellings, I'm using talk to type. Have a great Sunday.

Thomas Brennan said...

On a different subject, Saint Lucie lost in 15 Innings last night. Apparently they gave Tebow the game off. Michael Paez, who we've written about on a number of occasions lately, his 1 for 23 in his last six games. When a hot young hitter like Paez gets promoted to St Lucie and goes into a deep deep slump, it reinforces what an amazing run Tebow's had since being promoted to St Lucie himself.

The fans must have been tipped off. A 15-inning game and Tebow never made it into the game. How do you spell refund?

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