Every Two-Sport Athlete Should Choose Baseball

The shocking retirement of San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland sent waves throughout the NFL. A league that has been paying copious amounts of money to retired players for concussions is now seeing a player leaving millions of dollars on the table because he fears for his long-term health, and he is not willing to take the risk. This got me thinking about how injuries differ throughout sports.

One has to wonder: would we know who players like Jeff Samardzija, Joe Mauer, or Craig Biggio are if they had chosen a different path?

There is no denying baseball has its share of injuries. Players can be injured sliding into a bag, getting hit by a pitch, or even shagging fly balls. But the injuries are less taxing in baseball than in football. The game in and of itself is less taxing on the body. In baseball, you are not colliding with another person every play. One could collide with the outfield wall from time to time, but it’s rare we see any player suffer a major injury from doing so. It is rare enough that when it does happen, like Sunday when Yankees prospect Jose Pirela suffered a concussion after colliding with the center field wall and then hitting his head on the warning track, it is major news.

Jamie Moyer pitched until he was nearly 50. It’s rare we see players with longevity in football. Drew Brees is playing into his later years, but he missed significant time early in his career. Longevity in baseball is much more frequent than in football.

Not to mention baseball is much more lucrative. For comparison, the two biggest contracts in football and baseball in their respective offseasons were signed by Ndamukong Suh and Giancarlo Stanton. Suh, who is widely considered the best interior defensive lineman in football, signed a 6-year, $114 million contract. Stanton’s deal was a 13-year, $325 million contract. The guarantees are also vastly different. The Miami Dolphins can cut Suh at any point, for any reason, and only have to pay him around $60 million. On the other hand, the Marlins are on the hook for every penny of Stanton’s deal. By comparison, if you are one of the best in baseball (Stanton is the number three position player in baseball behind Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen), you get double the years and almost triple the cash.

Athletes will eventually age and will enter and then exit their prime. This is all the more reason to get everything you can out of your career. Is baseball less physical, less taxing on the human body than football? Yes. Is baseball more lucrative than football? Yes. You can, hopefully, have a longer career and make more money, while not risking your long-term health in the process. And really, you’re long-term health is what actually matters. Because you can make all the money in the world. But, if you get hit in the head day after day for 15 years, then can’t remember what you had for breakfast that morning, your wife’s name, your children’s dance recitals, was it worth it? Was it REALLY worth choosing football over baseball?

One Response

  1. Christian camlin

    No question that any player who has to choose baseball or Football would be an idiot to choose football and has probably already suffered too much brain damage from football if he makes that choice.But many players have had to choose between Basketball and baseball and that choice is nowhere near as easy to make.Danny Ainge for example was a part of several championship teams and a basketball All Star.Yet his .200ish Baseball stats hastened his choice of Basketball only.Dave DeBusschere had a much more difficult choice in the Early 1960’s. After 2 years with the White Sox he had a 2.90 ERA and had shown that he could either Start or relieve well.But he was only scored 12.7 points with 8.7 Rebounds a game during the basketball season in between those years.Then in his 2nd season in the NBA he got hurt and missed 65 out of 80 games that year.But at this point DeBusschere Chose Basketball.He was then an 8 time All Star who helped the Knick’s to 2 World Titles.He was a 6 time NBA Defensive player of the year and that 12.7 point a game rookie season snagged him a Rookie of the Year award in 1962-63.But 1 way we can say he might have been right is that he was elected to the basketball Hall of Fame.
    Others like Kenny Lofton Clearly made the right choice playing baseball.Dave Winfield also picked Baseball over both Basketball and Football.Funny thing is Winfield was 41-1 as a pitcher in college.And then what can you say about basketball Olympean Mike Smithson. He chose baseball and played 8 seasons with a 76-86 record as a starting pitcher.He even played for the 1987 World Championship Twins team.But in 1987 the Twins did not use him on their playoff roster after a 4-7 year with a career Worst 5.94 ERA.but hen again his career ERA of 4.58 was not exactly sterling.At 6 foot 8 inches he likely would have had a longer and more lucrative basketball career but by the time he graduated college he had changed focus and wanted to play baseball.I know these names are the tip of the iceberg and many others have also had to choose between the 2 sports and for most baseball is the right pick.But only if the player can either hit the curveball or throw a pretty good curveball.

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