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Friday, March 18, 2011

Justin Morneau: Jayson Stark Article

For those who haven't read it, here is the link to Jayson Stark's excellent article on about Justin Morneau and his return to baseball.

With respect to Morneau's injury, I have always held opinion that he should not play until he is ready, even if that were to mean missing some, or all, of the 2011 season. Morneau has a lot more going on this year than he did last year; more important than being a very good ballplayer, he is a human being, a son, husband, and now a father. Of course, even if he were to retire today, he has earned more than enough money to comfortably support his family, so finances probably aren't as much a consideration for him as they are for most working-class people.

Concussions -- especially multiple concussions -- are no joke. The fact that Morneau couldn't comfortably watch television for several months underscores the degree to which these injuries affect daily life. The Twins organization has done the right thing by not urging Morneau's return. As a basis for comparison, just take a look at former NFL greats who return for their Hall of Fame or number retirement ceremonies, or listen to them on TV interviews: many players, only in their 40s or 50s, cannot comfortably walk, and exhibit other signs of lasting physical and mental injuries. Of course, football is, by its nature, much more physical than baseball, but the NFL has always had a policy of "encouraging" quick returns from injuries, even concussions. Unfortunately, although it may be better for television ratings to encourage star players to return to action, it is those players that pay the price for this unwritten policy of fast returns to action.

10, 12, 15 years from now, should the Minnesota Twins Baseball Club decide to retire Morneau's number or induct him into the Twins Hall of Fame (hopefully after a World Series or two), I hope to see a healthy, physically fit Morneau, rather than the shell of a man that was once a great ballplayer, who came back to his sport too soon after a brain injury, the full medical scope of which has yet to be fully understood.

I hope Justin Morneau is starting at first base on April 1 in Toronto, and, although I will be disappointed as a Twins baseball fan if he is not, I will understand on the human level that many things transcend the game baseball.

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