Every year at this time, we marvel at the many creative ways baseball players find to make an appearance on the ever-popular Strange But True Injuries of the Year leaderboard.
So we’d like to thank this year’s baseball population for … cooking breakfast … playing the piano … and doing their best to get in and out of their hotel bathroom safely. But you know what’s especially amazing? None of those mishaps even topped this list!
Really? Yes, really. So here they come, the Strangest But Truest Injuries of 2023.
First prize: Eye confess!
We always award Injury of the Year bonus points to guys who manage to get hurt while they’re already hurt. So here’s to Rays relief warrior Pete Fairbanks, who couldn’t even cover up the Giannis imitation that got him into this mess.
When Fairbanks met with the Rays’ media delegation in June after returning from a stint on the injured list with hip inflammation, he brought a dazzling black eye with him — and one of the great How I Did This stories of the 21st century.
Turns out this could happen to you, too, if you try dunking on your 3-year-old in the pool.
“I pulled the pool basketball hoop down onto my face after dunking on a 3-year-old,” Fairbanks confessed, “to kind of teach him an early lesson in life that, when you’re in the paint, you cannot be caught unawares underneath the rim.”
To which we can only hope his son said: Send it in, Jerome!
Second prize: It’s all the alarm clock’s fault!
We’ve always thought of Blue Jays starter Yusei Kikuchi as a sleeping giant.
Little did we know!
Why did he make an early exit from a great September start at Yankee Stadium? Because he cramped up, he said, after getting “only” 11 hours’ sleep — as opposed to his usual 12 to 14 hours. So he may not lead the league in shutouts. But what the heck. You have to love his chances of leading the league in shuteye. And if this is a sleep goal of yours, T-shirts are available!
Third prize: When you (and your back) have gotta go
When Diamondbacks third baseman Evan Longoria strained his back last July, he was supposed to miss only a week or so. So why did it turn into three weeks? Because, by his account, he aggravated his back getting up off the toilet in a hotel bathroom in San Francisco.
So you thought making outs could be hazardous to a baseball player’s career, huh? Watch out for the outhouse!
Fourth prize: There goes his walk ratio
Need more proof that most spring training drills are overrated? Dodgers pitcher Tony Gonsolin headed off to a routine fielding drill during spring training last March — and got through the fielding part fine. Turns out it was his exit strategy that he should have been working on.
He tripped walking off the field, sprained his ankle and missed the first four weeks of the season. But was it all worth it? He didn’t make an error all season!
Fifth prize: They had plenty of time to be an even greater dad
Finally, there were so many great moments in fatherhood this season … that led to not-so-great moments in trying to make it onto the field … so we’re rounding them up here. If their families print this and frame it, it should make for a lovely Father’s Day gift.
• Giants pitcher Anthony DeSclafani fractured his toe … playing the piano with his son!
• Adam Wainwright burned his finger … cooking breakfast for his son!
• Josh Donaldson sliced his thumb … while assembling a toy for his daughter!
All that seems troublesome. But hey, at least they didn’t try dunking on their kids in the pool.
The Year in Strange But True
The Year in Strange But True: MLB’s 20 most mind-blowing hitting and pitching feats of 2023
The Year in Strange But True: MLB’s Weirdest & Wildest teams and games of 2023
(Top photo of Pete Fairbanks: Patrick Smith / Getty Images)