When the Mets signed Matt "Skeletor" Wise to a one-year deal, I didn't know much about him, and didn't expect enough from him to bother with a post. His numbers are largely uninspiring. But thanks to a stream of positive spring training coverage, I now feel compelled to root for the guy.
First of all, he's repeatedly injured himself in ridiculous ways, which is something I can relate to on a personal level. Since recovering from 2003 Tommy John surgery, Wise has strained his shoulder on a "slick railing"(?), sliced his hand open on salad tongs (I still have a scar from the time three years ago I decided to open a bag of granola with a steak knife), and somehow managed to concuss himself on the dugout roof while walking off the field. Damn and blast MLB for pulling that footage off YouTube.
Now, these mishaps don't reach the bizarre heights of, say, Clint Barmes' broken shoulder by deer meat, or Glenallen Hill's spider-nightmare sleepwalking incident, but that's still a pretty impressive litany of bad luck.
And in today's Journal News, Wise talks about how much he struggled last season after hitting a batter in the face; he was too worried that he might hurt somebody to pitch effectively inside. That sensitivity may not be ideal in pitchers -- guys like Roger Clemens and Nolan Ryan, for instance, seemed to regard an occasional maimed batter as par for the course -- but it's admirable in general.
Needless to say, this warm Port St. Lucie lovefest will not continue through the season should Wise fail to improve on his career-average ERA of 4.18.
In the course of writing this post, I came across some truly spectacular baseball injury stories of which I'd somehow been previously unaware. Perhaps my favorite is the fact that Vince Coleman, then of the Cardinals, "missed the 1985 World Series after he was run over by the automatic tarp machine." I've never even heard of an automatic tarp machine, and perhaps this is why.
Coleman is of course best known to Mets fans for being frequently injured, fighting with coaches, and tossing a lit firecracker at small children in the Dodgers Stadium parking lot. I was aware of all that -- but I never realized before that Coleman must simply have been dealing, the best way he knew how, with the suppressed trauma of a vicious tarp attack. The media can be SO unfair sometimes.