Originally posted on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 10/1/12
Something ridiculous happened. When ridiculous things happen, you’re often left wondering how much to worry about it, since, of course, it was ridiculous. It might be even more ridiculous to continue thinking about it.
Ryan Howard dropped a lead pipe that he swings in the on-deck circle on his toe and broke it. He won’t play again this season. So here’s your bizarre thing, and maybe it was just a freak occurrence, not worth thinking about any longer than it took to produce the mild expression of happiness or sadness that occurred when you first heard that this thing happened. Baseball! You might say. Crazy things happen.
photo of the offending pipe courtesy philly.com

But here’s the stupid part of it: there’s research that says that swinging a heavier item before you go to bat actually slows your bat speed. Here’s the money line from that Wall Street Journal piece by Craig Wolff:
Scientific research makes clear that the more weight you swing in the on-deck circle, the slower your swing in the batter’s box.
So here’s a ritual that baseball players perform that has been shown to be harmful on an everyday basis… and Ryan Howard breaks a toe doing it? The Phillies were a long shot, so it may not seem like such a big deal now, but it’s not hard to imagine this happening in a more crucial moment. And even the fact that this is the first time this has happened in recent memory doesn’t mean that much — every day that baseball is played, someone somewhere is swinging with one of these doughnuts, pipes, weighted bats or (yes) sledgehammers, and someone a second later is going to drop that instrument somewhere. That’s building up a lot of “n” — this injury could happen again, to a team that desperately needs their star slugger at that moment.
And then we’ll have had a completely avoidable situation.
Proponents would say that it makes the player feel like the bat is lighter in their hands. It makes the batter feel good. There are all sorts of things that a batter could do to make themselves feel better for an at-bat, and many of them are illegal. That player is a valuable paid-for asset belonging to an organization and he is worth protecting, even when the person he’s being protected from is himself.
There are other practices that are more dangerous. A broken bat in the field of play is a source of danger. A line drive back to the pitcher is a source of danger. This pipe/toe story seems trivial compared to those potential outcomes. It would take a strange, strange on-deck circle accident to create much more than a broken toe. The difference here, though, is that — to varying degrees — this accident is completely avoidable. Any team can eliminate the possibility that this happens to them.
Swinging with weights is more like long-toss: some pitchers swear by it, but if a team has research suggests that it hurts pitchers, it’s well within their rights to ban it from their organization. And many teams do have long toss policies. It’s a ritual that some pitchers do, and they think it helps them, and there looks to be research that says it’s bad for them, so it’s banned in some cases. Plug in ‘swinging with a doughnut on the bat,’ and you’ve got an analogous situation, really.
So Ryan Howard did a ridiculous thing, and maybe it was just a freak thing that we don’t have to worry about. But since the thing he was doing was probably already detrimental, maybe it was actually an important thing that Ryan Howard did. And if it was an important thing, we should thank Ryan Howard for breaking his toe so that maybe the next guy doesn’t have to. Seriously!
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
Most strikeouts by a hitter in a single season
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

LISTEN: Kevin Harlan saves MNF again by doing play-by-play of two idiots on the field

Jets security guards make best tackles of the night on fan rushing field

NFL changes stance, Titans and Browns can participate in ‘My Cause My Cleats’ campaign

Report: MLB smashed old revenue record in 2016

Percy Harvin out for season due to migraines

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Ducks goalie had embarrassing reason for not playing in relief

Bruce Arians emphatically shoots down retirement rumor

Siemian out of walking boot; Broncos hoping he can play

Report: Harper seeking $400 million, likely to leave Nationals

Report: Aldon Smith setting up meeting to seek reinstatement

Rams players vent frustrations as losses pile up

The five 2016 Heisman finalists: How do they measure up?

The good, bad, and ugly from NFL Week 13

Championship Week as explained by Diana Ross

Cult of Sport: Before there was Ezekiel Elliott, there was Eric Dickerson

MLB Winter Meetings primer: Every team's trade temperature on the hot stove

James Franklin, Penn State come up roses

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Sporting life: Gifts for real fans (that aren't ugly NFL sweaters)

Best of Yardbarker: CFB Championship Week chaos

New faces help Spurs continue unparalleled success

The Pirates prepare for rarely chartered waters in dealing Andrew McCutchen

Joakim Noah’s contract is becoming worst deal in NBA

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The five 2016 Heisman finalists: How do they measure up?

The good, bad, and ugly from NFL Week 13

Championship Week as explained by Diana Ross

Cult of Sport: Before there was Ezekiel Elliott, there was Eric Dickerson

Winter Meetings primer: Every team's trade temperature on the hot stove

James Franklin, Penn State come up roses

Final College Football Playoff rankings: Alabama reigns

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Sporting life: Gifts for real fans (that aren't ugly NFL Christmas sweaters)

New faces help Spurs continue unparalleled success

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker