clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Brandon McCarthy and the Department of Optimism

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Mike Ehrmann

This is the beginning of Nick Piecoro's article -- all of which is definitely worth reading -- about Brandon McCarthy's latest physical setback (even as it's implied that "setback" might not be precisely the right word) ...

Right-hander Brandon McCarthy, who needed emergency surgery after being struck on the head by a line drive last season, suffered a seizure last week.

The Diamondbacks pitcher said Saturday he’s fine now and is hopeful it won’t push back his recovery from shoulder inflammation.

McCarthy was at a restaurant in north Phoenix with his wife, Amanda, on Monday night when the incident occurred.

After he slumped over in a booth, Amanda climbed across, pushed the table away and called for help.

He was taken to the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, where a CT scan determined he had not suffered additional head trauma. He said he was put on anti-seizure medication.

Doctors told him he would have no physical limitations and that he could resume his rehabilitation the next day.

Excellent news, all of it. I've met Brandon McCarthy, talked to him a couple of times, but I wouldn't begin to suggest that I know him. I like him, though, as much as I can like someone I've spoken to twice and makes more money in a year than I'll make in my life. I like him rather a lot. So when I read that something's happened to Brandon McCarthy, I feel a larger pang of sorrow than when, for example, 234 souls go down with an airliner in the Penghu Islands or something. For better or worse, most of us care more about one person we know, even if just a little, than about hundreds -- or hey, let's be honest, thousands and thousands -- of people we don't know.

But none of this is news to you. What's most interesting to me about this story is what it says about Baseball's nearly limitless tendency toward optimism. Brandon McCarthy suffers from a chronic shoulder problem. From 2007 through 2012, he averaged roughly 90 innings per season. The last of those seasons was ended by a serious brain injury.

After those six seasons and one serious brain injury, the Arizona Diamondbacks essentially made a $15.5 million bet that McCarthy would bounce back from the brain injury and avoid a debilitating recurrence of his shoulder injury.

McCarthy hasn't pitched particularly well this season, but it does seem that he's been terribly unlucky. Again. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is outstanding but he's given up a ton of hits, and is just 2-4 with a 5.00 ERA in 11 starts. Then came the shoulder injury, and the seizure, and the Diamondbacks will do everything they can to get McCarthy back on the mound, and probably would even if they hadn't made that $15.5 million bet. That's just baseball. But the $15.5 million ... that was pure optimism, as $15.5 million, even these days, is a fair amount of money.

But if anyone's got the Diamondbacks beat in the Department of Optimism, maybe it's Brandon and Amanda McCarthy. McCarthy suffered life-threatening injuries when that Erick Aybar line drive struck his head last September. He's smart and handsome and articulate, and doesn't have to do this for a living. Yet there he was in February, pitching again. With the full support of his wife (if you believe Twitter, anyway).

Of course, Brandon McCarthy is hardly alone. Remember Mark Prior, who hasn't pitched in the majors since 2006? He were there in February, too, trying to pitch his way onto the Reds' roster. That didn't happen, but he's pitching this spring for Cincinnati's Triple-A club despite (of course) another run of injuries. Grady Sizemore didn't play at all last season, and hasn't played well since 2009. Ah, but never underestimate the amount -- if not the impact -- of baseball optimism ...

6. Grady Sizemore, OF, free agent — It shouldn’t be long before a long list of teams start to inquire about Sizemore. He’s begun baseball activities after missing all this time with knee surgeries, and so far he’s had no setbacks. Sizemore was once one of the great talents in the game, and it appears he’s working his way back and could help teams needing outfield help (Mets?) for the second half of the season.

source: Nick Cafardo

Hey, why not? Jeremy Bonderman beat the Yankees the other night. Chris Davis went from prospective washout to superstar in about three seconds. Bartolo Colon is 40, and leads the American League in strikeout-to-walk ratio.

How can you not get romantic about baseball? And how can you not hope that Brandon McCarthy pitches for as long as he wants to pitch?