Will Carroll

I write about injuries.

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Skating To The Puck

Some of you know I grew up with hockey. The Indianapolis Racers were one of my first homes, where the world of sports medicine and sports were really ingrained in me. Wayne Gretzky was there, for a short time.

He famously said that he was good because he skated to where the puck was going to be, rather than to where the puck is. I can’t say he said that to me - I was paying more attention to Andy Brown, the last maskless goalie, who might be a better metaphor for my career than the Great One.

But in my career, now 14 years of it, I’ve been lucky enough to skate to where the puck is going to be. I came to Baseball Prospectus when Nate Silver and Joe Sheehan came in. I went to Bleacher Report just before it exploded.

I think I’m doing it again.

There’s no question about where the puck is going in sports. The world is fragmented and as HBO announces HBO Now on this very day, I think...

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The Power of Small Gifts

So I woke up at 2.30am for no apparent reason. That is always a time for scary ideas.

I wake up, check email and there’s a mail from Amazon. It’s suggesting that I take a look at something called a Platypus, which has a new product out. For a moment, I look at it and think ‘why are they sending me this?’

Then I remember.

A couple years ago a friend of mine, who is a bit of a drinker (and I say that in a good way) was joking about not being able to take her wine places, like ballgames. I knew there had to be a solution, found it - Platypus - and on a whim, bought her one.

She loved it.

About six months later, I found myself in a situation where I happened to be in her town and needed a favor. I’m not saying she did it because I bought her something previously, but maybe it entered her mind. She did me a huge favor, getting me out of a potentially bad situation.

A small gift. A...

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Math Problem

I always hated word problems, but I don’t know a better way to present this.

Winter is coming (cue Ned Stark) but pitchers don’t stop throwing. For many in colder climates they head inside. The downside is that long toss is seldom possible in smaller venues. I think that’s solvable.

So let’s take a situation where we have a known distance, a wall, and two unknown variables. Can anyone solve this, or come up with a better solution to the issue?

Let’s say that we have 50 feet of space. The wall is 20 feet high. How high up the wall would you have to hit to be throwing 180 feet? 200? And would you have to know the speed to make the calculation work?

Put your best solutions on twitter. @injuryexpert

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Soft Tissue Is Hard Choice

The Indianapolis Colts appeared to be going hockey-style with their in-camp injury reports as camp began. Several issues were known - hamstrings, groins, swollen knees - but the Colts would give a sidelong glance and say “soft tissue” or “lower body.”

Mike Chappell was on the radio today and gave me a clue. He said (paraphrasing) that giving vague designations like this was often hard on a player. A player could have a serious injury and because the facts weren’t known, he might look like a malingerer.

Mike’s a smart guy.

I had assumed that the Colts were giving these designations to tweak the media. There’s no rule in place that a team has to give any information at this stage. Remember, the Official Injury Report has to do with whether a player will play, not whether he’s injured. The designations are watched closely and it’s all about controlling information. The NFL gets very wary...

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Twitter unveiled their “engagement” stat this week and I’ll let you go elsewhere for a definition. What we discovered quickly was that the follower count, until now the be-all end-all of Twitter, is meaningless. Engagement is at single digit levels. According to Danny Sullivan of SearchEngineWatch, it’s around one percent for many.

That means that until a user gets to broadcast level followers, the tweets are meaningless in terms of reach. For all the flak that Facebook has gotten for fractionalizing views in their feed, they may not be reducing viewership over Twitter levels.

I’ve experienced this on a couple levels. When I went over to Bleacher Report, I had a massive gain in Twitter followers. I went from around 25k to 50k in the space of a few weeks. At first, I was impressed. B/R was bigger in social media than Sports Illustrated and I thought this was the reason.



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Putting Things Together, Tearing Them Apart

There are a couple things that we know:

  1. One third of current pitchers have had Tommy John surgery.
  2. One half of all pitchers will go on the DL in any given three year period.
  3. Pitchers that throw 190 innings or more tend to do so again and again until they don’t.

I was thinking about 1 and 2 for a while, wondering if those two facts were a bit too negative. It means that two thirds of pitchers avoid Tommy John and that half of pitchers are healthy. Aren’t those pitchers as worth studying as the injured ones we chase correlations and kinematics for?

One of the criticisms of Glenn Fleisig’s work is often that he only tested the best pitchers. He’d show off a wireframe of Roger Clemens in talks. Well, yeah. Clemens gets people’s attention. It was never about cherry picking as trying to get people to listen. But people were essentially criticizing him for optimism.

Does turning the...

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80 Percent Failure?

Yesterday, after writing about Tommy John revisions (or second Tommy John surgery), someone pointed out to me that Dr. James Andrews had been quoted as saying that the failure rate for revisions was about 80 percent.

That’s pretty high. I simply couldn’t figure out where that came from and did some research. I had nine current players who had returned from a second TJS during the 2013 season. All successfully returned, under the definition that getting back to MLB is success. It says nothing of effectiveness.

A number of people started to do further research, including Jon Roegele (@mlbplayeranlys). He found a total of 26 players who had returned, 8 who did not return and 8 who have not had sufficient time to return yet. (I’m not sure if that includes recent players like Kris Medlen and Jarrod Parker.) Check Jon’s timeline for more details.

So what was Dr. Andrews talking about? I’m...

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What I Saw

I had an interesting conversation with a friend today. He’s also one of the best writers around. At this time of year, there’s more than baseball players who are on the market and he asked me whether I liked being at Bleacher Report.

Quick answer: Yes.

This is a guy who a year ago said “Bleacher Report? Are you crazy?” when I signed on and to some extent, he was right. He wasn’t badmouthing the company, but he saw it as a step down from Sports Illustrated. Now, he was subtly asking me whether he should consider B/R when looking this winter.

He asked me a great question in the conversation and while I get variations on this, he asked it in such a way that I felt compelled to write about it. His question was “Looking back, what did you see in Bleacher Report that gave you an idea it was going to explode?”

First, again, look at his wording. Explode. This is a guy who questioned it at...

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Followers, Lemmings, Bots and Me

Someone asked me what I would do for my 30,000th follower on Twitter.
Same thing I did for my 25,000th. My 20,000th. My first.
Absolutely nothing.

I’m never going to beg for followers the way that people do because I don’t care about the number. If people want to follow me, great. If they don’t, equally great. I don’t get paid to tweet. I tweet because it’s there and there’s some expectation that people in my kind of position will tweet.

I’d really rather not. I left Twitter for almost six months and only returned because my employer at the time asked me to. I didn’t miss it.

I really enjoy the interaction with some people. I’ve met great friends. I’ve had really cool discussions. But there’s a great amount of trolls. Stupid people. Even smart people that act stupid. People think their snark is necessary. Twitter could be a great resource, except for the signal to noise ratio is...

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Just Five? The “Best” TV

Someone, who I will now blame sans nom for forcing me to think about such things at 1am, asked what our “Mount Rushmore” of TV would be? It’s an impossible question, tossed asunder by problems of recall and immediacy and of course personal preference.

Never stopped me before.

I will say that there are probably brilliant episodes of TV that I’ve watched, shows like Hill Street Blues or Saint Elsewhere that I haven’t gone back to watch and that I simply don’t recall in detail because of the distance and my age when I first saw them.

I made the mistake once of going back and watching one of my favorite TV shows of my youth. Miami Vice does not hold up. At all. Almost comically bad, yet there were elements of theme and shot, soundtrack and tone, that I could see why it worked at the time. It’s hard to remember that it changed how car chases were filmed. That it changed how soundtrack was...

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