I haven’t posted here at Banished to the Pen in, wow, it’s been nearly three weeks. This is a short post about my absence, my return, and the stray thoughts reentering the work flow here has brought to my mind.

I’m a huge advocate of resting players. I’m a radical about it, in fact. If I were a GM, none of my position players would play more than 126 games in a season, and most of them would play substantially fewer. My bullpen would be rotational, not hierarchical. People would complain about my Major League payroll, because it would be trimmed to allow me to spend about $8 million on minor-league free-agent additions to use as depth. Players would have opportunities to sign up for weekends off. Young players would be sent to Triple-A for maintenance once a season or so, and I would find a way to pay them an MLB salary during the demotion. I’m not the guy who would feed 19-year-olds on some kind of hyper-scientific nutrition system, but I am the one who would stretch my resources to make the shuttle between Triple-A and the parent club one players ride with less resentment, with greater purpose and without great cost.

A Major League season contains 162 game days, perhaps 14 travel days and as many as 7 true off days. Three of those true off days, though, are the All-Star break, meaning the best players in baseball hardly ever get even a week’s time truly off during the six-month grind of the season, and that even the lesser lights only get that amount, spread over half a year, with half of it compressed into one string of weekdays in the middle. I don’t think that’s enough. I want to have players carve out time to release their mind from the game for a day, even if they must come to the park in case of emergency. Mental breaks have value. Physical breaks have value. Baseball players get too few of each.

In that spirit, I took a fatigue-related break. Foolishly, I tried to write something in the neighborhood of 50,000 words during the fortnight that saw teams remake themselves faster than a 49-year-old divorcee with money to burn. I didn’t get there, and even many of the words I did write have died on the cutting-room floor that is my desktop. You might eventually see some of the things I worked on, in shrunken or reimagined or reshaped form, but a lot went for naught. And that’s fine, because it was pretty bad writing I was doing, by the end of that window. I was trying to pitch on too many consecutive days, losing velocity, losing deception on the changeup, and missing mechanical markers.

Thus, like savvy teams use the All-Star break to refresh dead arms without losing ground, I stepped back from the keyboard throughout the holidays. I hope you didn’t mind. I’m back, and I think the backlog of ideas I idly stored up should allow me to write much more, much better, in coming days, weeks and months. For one thing, we really should talk about an efficient way to spread the workload of a long season around better. Another time.

Happy New Year. Let’s have some fun.

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One Response to “Call it a Dead-Arm Phase: Notes on My DL Stint”

  1. Jon Williams

    Very thought provoking post. I like your ideas especially as a writer still working through a bunch of the off-season moves.
    I also agree that MLB players could benefit a lot from more real days off during the season.


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