SI Vault
 
Name That Pain
STEVE RUSHIN
July 25, 2011
Nothing in sports is as strained as the language of the injury list
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
July 25, 2011

Name That Pain

Nothing in sports is as strained as the language of the injury list

View CoverRead All Articles
1 2

But there's no such cultural enlightenment regarding other injuries, leaving most of us in the dark as to what Brewers pitcher Mitch Stetter is now suffering while nursing a "labral irritation of the left hip." Cardinals hurler Brian Tallet has a "right intercostal strain," which holds a raised middle finger to our collective understanding, something that can't be said of Indians pitcher Alex White, whose "injured right middle finger" is a small victory for clear language.

Such victories are increasingly rare. In 2006, Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon was diagnosed with a "transient subluxation event in the setting of a fatigued shoulder." At the time manager Terry Francona said of the transient subluxation, "It sounds like the guy who lives under the bridge." This summer, though, when Sox shortstop Jed Lowrie left a game after aggravating his injured left shoulder, Francona said, "He felt that there was a mild subluxation." The phrase has entered the baseball lexicon.

So the jargon has been accepted, and there's no going back. The bullet train has left the station. It's an intercoastal train, pulling intercostal strains and mild subluxations. A subluxation, incidentally, is a partial dislocation. A mild subluxation, then, is a partial partial dislocation. If that doesn't make sense, good: You're not supposed to understand. Speaking clearly doesn't convey the appearance of being an insider, of knowing all the passwords and secret handshakes. As former Yale president Kingman Brewster Jr. once said, "Incomprehensible jargon is the hallmark of a profession."

To the outsider, Joe Mauer—playing again after bilateral leg weakness—appears to have had tired legs. But don't expect to read that in an injury report. Fans will continue to feel, when scanning the DL, as if someone is pulling their legs. Not bilaterally, mind you, but one at a time.

Now on SI.com

For more from Steve Rushin, including Rushin Lit, go to SI.com/rushin

1 2