Cards Pitchers: Do You Swear By The Almighty Bob Gibson to Tell the Truth?

Oh, no. Say it ain’t so.

Another Cardinals’ pitcher seems to have forgotten (ahem) to inform the team of the full extent of an injury-related issue.

This isn’t right. It’s certainly no way to treat The Beloved Leader of Men who — seriously — is so good to his players and worthy of respect and consideration in return.

And we know these fellows were taught better than this by their mamas and/or daddies.

After hopping off the 10-day DL, where he’d been healing the blisters on his pitching fingers, reliever Matt Bowman hopped right back on the DL after acknowledging more problems with his right hand.

Numbness of the fingers, basically. Our friend and former colleague Derrick Goold explains it well.

The headline sums it up: “Bowman returns to DL, admits to not being ‘totally forthcoming’ about blister problem.”

Bowman gave up the info after giving up two runs in the 10th inning and getting cuffed with the loss in Monday’s 6-5 setback at Philadelphia. Had Bowman been more truthful, perhaps the Cardinals would have gotten a win instead.

This has been going on for too long. Adam Wainwright, Carlos Martinez, Alex Reyes, Bowman. And those are just the guys we know about.

Mike Matheny: “How are you feeling? How’s the elbow?”

Pitcher: “Great.”

Matheny: “Are you sure? Telling me everything?”

Pitcher: “Skipper, would I ever lie to you? I’m a tiger, ready to pounce. I need out of the cage.”

Matheny: “OK. I have so much respect for your warrior spirit. I put you right up there with the greatest warriors in the history of the world, like Eric Bloodaxe, Yue Fei, William Wallace — and the bravest of them all, Chris Carpenter. But we just have to make sure.”

Pitcher: “Really, I’ve never felt better in my entire life. It’s amazing. Just give me the ball. You’ll see.”

And then, soon into that day’s pitching assignment… 

Pain, discomfort, grimacing, diminished velocity, fastballs that are about as threatening as white carnations, three walks, five hits, five runs, 3.2 innings …  early exit, MRI, doctors, Disabled List.

Matheny isn’t the type of manager who will hold it against a pitcher who can’t work because of an inflamed elbow, strained hamstring, sore back, or some rib-cage ailment. Even though Matheny was one of the toughest catchers of his time — as tough as any player — he isn’t a fake, macho-man jerk about injuries. He truly cares about players. He looks out for them. If you’re a player, I find it hard to believe there’s a better manager in the majors to go to for an honest conversation about your injury condition.

So why do they do him this way?

New rule:

Before a Cardinals pitcher warms up, the manager or the coach shall approach him with a copy of the Cardinals’ legendary baseball bible, written by iconic instructor George Kissell.

The pitcher must place his pitching hand on the Kissell bible and take the oath.

“I swear by the almighty Bob Gibson that the injury report I am about to give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” 

So help you Bob Gibson?

“So help me Bob Gibson.” 

Look, my stupid joking aside, I know that athletes do this kind of thing because they want to compete… and they’re probably hurting in some way every time they take the field to play. Their minds are trained to push through it.

And when an athlete fibs about injuries, it doesn’t mean that he or she is Eddie Cicotte, Rosie Ruiz, Pete Rose, Lance Armstrong, etc.

But when a sincere manager like Matheny asks you a straight question, it’s proper to give him a straight answer.

Or maybe I have this all wrong.

The late Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra was certainly an expert on pitchers. The proud son of The Hill neighborhood in St. Louis grew up to become one of the greatest New York Yankees, catching more than 1,700 games during his prestigious big-league career.

This was Yogi’s famous take:  “All pitchers are liars or crybabies.”

Maybe it’s just too much to expect complete honesty from anyone, really. But especially athletes that have a relatively short time in the sun, to make the most of a career that could end at any moment. Not that we condone lying, but keeping secrets evidently is an element of an athlete’s instinctive survival skills.

So, yeah, I guess they’re going to lie.

Probably because everybody has.

Pitchers, athletes, clergy, media, politicians, bankers, entertainers, and great historical figures.

As Yogi Berra once reminded us, “Even Napoleon had his Watergate.”

Thanks for reading …

–Bernie

More: At a Hazardous Stage of 2018, the Cardinals Need Their Rotation To Rally