Amaro Full-Blows It On Biddle’s Brain
Among the bizarre health issues that have befallen Jesse Biddle in the last couple years, (you may recall he basically pitched through whooping cough in 2013), getting a concussion from a hail stone takes the cake. He was pitching well at AA Reading early in 2014, then he got plunked fleeing for cover from his busted up car during a wild storm, and his season all but fell apart.
After a skipped start, Biddle returned to pretty horrific mound results and trouble throwing to the bases. About a month later he was shut down for what the team initially deemed a “mental break”. It was later revealed that Biddle was suffering with post-concussion symptoms, and suddenly his problems seemed less like a guy who was overstressed or overthinking, and more like a guy with a brain injury.
So on Thursday, when Jim Salisbury published an article about Biddle and his mindset, and Biddle described going to a concussion specialist and being diagnosed with a concussion, it wasn’t surprising.
“I believe with the way it lines up, I was concussed and I was pitching with a concussion,” (Biddle) said. “I saw a concussion specialist and he said I had a concussion.”Jim Salisbury
Pretty straight-forward. Then Salisbury quoted GM Ruben Amaro, which, unsurprisingly made my head hurt like I myself had been hit with a giant ball of ice.
Amaro this week acknowledged that Biddle had “concussion symptoms,” but added, “I don’t know if it was a full-blown concussion.” He went on to say, “That wasn’t the reason we gave him the break.”Jim Salisbury
There are a couple things I don’t like about this. First off, yes, there are differing levels of severity of traumatic brain injury. But when the injury in question was followed by “concussion symptoms”, many of which can cause the very issues Biddle was facing last year, what is the point of Amaro parsing the diagnosis of a head injury as if he’s a medical professional? It’s also kind of baffling that he would use the term “full-blown concussion” so casually. Google finds about 13 thousand references to the phrase, compared to some 16 million for “concussion”. So yeah, he’s basically making things up. About one of his players’ brains. Wise.
Next, and from a purely franchise-centric position, what good does it do to push the narrative that Biddle needed a “mental break” that was not fueled by concussion symptoms? If Amaro ever wants to trade Biddle, he’s just reiterated that the time off was necessary because Biddle wasn’t able to mentally handle the game. Most teams don’t covet players who come off as mentally weak, and Amaro has just told the league that his guy is just that. When there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation to get around it, Amaro has devalued his player by tagging him with a negative. Savvy.
But ultimately the most frustrating part of all of this is that Amaro is pushing what is already an unfair stigma against a young man who does not deserve it anyway. Biddle’s issues were physiological, not chemical or otherwise “mental”, and those who have any of these issues don’t deserve to be called out or shamed by anyone, let alone their employer, and let alone to a major media outlet. Amaro goes out of his way to tell us Biddle was having trouble getting himself in a mental position to compete, thereby diminishing what Biddle has been saying since last year, that his concussion was at least a significant part of the trouble.
And why? There’s nothing to suggest Amaro is mad at the player. That he’d slam him for spite. There’s no upside to pushing this particular narrative to the league or the public. And so, the only reason that I can think of is that Amaro himself can’t handle the pressure of a microphone in his face.
So, Mr. Amaro, perhaps you ought to give yourself a month away from the media. I think you’re in dire need of a “mental break”. You’ve been fine working behind the scenes. Go ahead and make a trade. Grab someone off the waiver wire. Take a trip to see the next International free agent.
Just do whatever you can to keep your full-blown mouth closed. Especially if you can’t keep your goddamned foot out of there.
Photo credit to Tug Haines, (@photugraphy) Reading Fightin’ Phils, via MiLB.com.