Wednesday, March 01, 2006

C.C. withrdaws

Cleveland is now 2-for-2 in star athletes making common-sense decisions this year.
LeBron James declined to participate in the NBA's tired, contrived slam dunk contest last month. Now, C.C. Sabathia has pulled out of the World Baseball Classic, as contrived as the slam dunk contest and presenting an even higher risk of injury for no good reason except money and TV ratings.
How long do you think the WBC will go on? As long as it takes for a big-name team like the Yankees to have their season royally screwed up because one of their cornerstone players got hurt and spent the summer in a cast.
But right now, the higher-ups in baseball think this is a great concept.
It's like telling your kid that riding a skateboard without a helmet is a bad idea. You tell him and tell him and he doesn't listen. Then you get called to the hospital to hold his hand while he's bawling and doctors are stitching a huge gash in his scalp. He'll wear a helmet after that, but you know it could have all been avoided.
Representing your country is a high calling in the Olympics. It is not a high calling in a manufactured event where U.S. resident Mike Piazza can play for Italy.
C.C. was wavering last week, when media reports said he was wary of spending much of spring training away from his normal routine. Today, in a statement released by the Indians, he reportedly said he couldn't participate because he would not be in competitive shape by Team USA's March 7 opener.
That's a double-edged sword. On one hand, he's right. What pitcher in his right mind would want to exert himself, even for six innings, in an early March game? Pitchers and their arms are the whole reason spring training lasts six weeks. Most position players could probably be ready for full-tilt baseball within two weeks.
On the other hand, it makes you wonder -- once again -- if C.C. has been taking care of himself away from baseball. Just what type of conditioning regimen did the paunchy Sabathia have this winter?
In recent years, C.C. has gotten off to slow starts, battling mechanical and endurance problems until he gets into good playing shape. If C.C. has to spend April sweating off pounds and improving his endurance, that's not going to help the Indians get off to the strong start they desperately need this season.

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