Others wise to learn from Joba's mishap
Common sense often disregarded as athletes seek adventure
To the long, long list of "don'ts" for Major League Baseball players, the trampoline must apparently now be added.
You would have thought that jumping on a trampoline wouldn't have to be added, that it would place itself automatically with cliff diving, climbing Mt. Everest and overnight hiking in the Sahara Desert as activities that really don't add anything to the physical well-being of a professional ballplayer.
But there is always somebody who wants to test the boundaries, whether the boundaries are those of typical physical conditioning or those of good sense. In this case, it was Joba Chamberlain, erstwhile relief pitcher of the New York Yankees.
Chamberlain, who was in the midst of a successful rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery on his right arm, made an outing to a recreation spot with his 5-year-old son, Karter, on Thursday. While jumping from one trampoline to another, Chamberlain suffered an open dislocation of the subtalar joint in his right foot. That means that bone was exposed.
There are two ways to look at this:
1. Chamberlain was very unlucky that an accident occurred while he was having an innocent outing with his kid.
2. Chamberlain, goofing around with trampolines, was lucky he wasn't hurt much more seriously.
The ultimate frame of reference for a trampoline injury would be Brian Sternberg, once the world record holder in the pole vault. While training on a trampoline, Sternberg landed on his neck and was paralyzed.
Compared to that experience, Chamberlain got away inexpensively on this adventure.
Speaking with reporters on Tuesday, Chamberlain expressed confidence that he will pitch again for the Yankees this season. On the other hand, he did not express substantial regret over suffering the trampoline-related injury. Instead, Chamberlain preferred to view this incident as something that happened while he was trying to be "a great dad."
"This game is very important to me," Chamberlain said. "It allows me to do a lot of things, but my son is my pride and joy, and I think that was the biggest thing. [I told myself], 'Don't be so hard on yourself and realize what you were doing. You were trying to be a great dad.'"
There are, of course, other ways to bond with your son. A trampoline is not required equipment on the road to being "a great dad."
In fact, in this case, Joba the dad is doubly lucky; he is working for an organization that has terrific health insurance. And this is also an organization that can afford to take an extraordinarily generous view of this episode. In the rest of life, if you tear up your foot in a trampoline mishap and you can't work, what happens? You have serious trouble on about eight separate fronts.
Baseball players have been injured in more innocuous ways than this. There was a serious bout of tendinitis resulting from marathon sessions with a video game. There was a cracked rib suffered in a pickup basketball game.
So if you're making a million, or millions, as a Major League Baseball player, you probably shouldn't jeopardize the hand half of the hand-eye coordination combination by playing a video game from dawn to dusk or dusk to dawn. And even that game of pickup basketball -- the same game you've been playing since you were a kid -- is no longer on the agenda, either.
The trampoline? That really shouldn't require instruction, should it? There shouldn't have to be somebody screaming, "No! No! Noooooo!!" at that possibility.
But apparently there are elements of the baseball population that require additional instruction in this area. OK. If you're a baseball player, it's a no-go, and a no-no. If you absolutely feel that you must bounce up and down, get an extra-firm mattress at the team hotel. Even then, you need to exercise caution. But with the trampoline, just say no.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.