In today's Freep, John Lowe talks to the rehabbing Joel Zumaya. It's an odd interview, as the injured reliever appears to have taken a "me against the world" attitude.
He knew Internet posters accused him of careless causes of the injury, such as a dirt-biking accident.
When Zumaya quit crying, he wrote a note to himself. In bold letters, it reads:
"I will prove this world wrong."
The world, he senses, thinks he won't come back from this injury.
"There's a lot of doubt about me right now," Zumaya said Tuesday. "A lot of it. I've read it."
"Internet posters" bullshit. The dirt bike rumor was fully debunked as the rantings of one clueless, lying, attention whoring commenter in a single ESPN article.
Why Zumaya has a chip on his shoulder is beyond me. If he needs to use negative reinforcement to help his rehab along, so be it. But he's the one who put himself in position for fans to be skeptical to begin with, thanks to the Guitar Hero flap.
If I was told that my playing a video game was injuring my wrist, thus detrimental to my future earnings, my game system would be put on the trash heap immediately. To possibly have missed games, especially playoff games, due to wrist soreness caused by a game controller is outright stupid and extremely immature. As we all know, stupidity and immaturity often go hand in hand.
For Zumaya to use the dirt bike rumor, and whatever other skepticism over his injury he was able to dig up on the web, once again, seems damn immature. The VAST majority of forum members and bloggers on the web took Zumaya at his word, are totally on his side and are hoping for a full recovery.
If there's one thing we've can be sure of in regard to Joel Zumaya, maturity is one thing he sorely lacks.
I'm also concerned by the tough talk throughout the interview.
"I'm on a mission," he said. "Mark my words: I'll be back, and I'll be able to do what I've been doing.
Zumaya acknowledges that because of the shoulder surgery, he might never again throw 103 m.p.h. His days of owning the majors' fastest fastball, the one measured in triple digits, might have been stolen forever by the shoulder damage.
In his next sentence, his defiance rises, and he says he might hit triple digits again.
If it meant his coming back at full strength, I'd prefer Zumaya miss the entire 2008 season. Instead, we read he's "on a mission" and will "hit triple digits again." Why do I get the feeling that he'll hurt himself even worse in rehab because of this attitude?
To me, Zumaya's 100 MPH garbage comes off as so much braggadocio, when he should be more concerned with becoming a complete pitcher, rather than a one pitch (Given it's a 100+ MPH pitch) curiosity. No matter how hard Zumaya rehabs, it doesn't change the facts. He suffered a catastrophic shoulder injury that could alter how he pitches forever. It's entirely possible that his plus fastball may now be ordinary, and he will have to learn to pitch all over again, ala Frank Tananna.
The tough talk being spewed from Zumaya are the words of someone who's really still a kid. And without a doubt, Zoom is a kid. I know I said more than my share of boastful, clueless things at his age. Still, Zumaya would be much better off if he grew up, and shut up.
I hate to admit it, but Zumaya's 2006 may be the equivalent of Mark Fydrich's 1976. I hope I'm wrong, but the parallels to The Bird remain.