Friday, May 23, 2008

Cardinals Medical Reports Strike Unhealthy Tone

Say it isn't so, Tony.

Citing a long string of possibly coincidental events, St. Louis Post-Dispatch sportswriter Joe Strauss in a recent investigative report appears to have uncovered what is largely hearsay and circumstantial evidence that Cardinals team physician Dr. George Paletta has participated with the team's front office to create raft of dubious and suspect press releases regarding player medical information.

Suspect announcements seem to be characterized by flaky supporting evidence for a wide variety of player movements, including trips to the disabled list, "rehab" sessions in the team's Jupiter, Fla. camp and substance abuse treatments. Far reaching ramifications include various players' history of problems prior to the alcohol-related automobile death of relief pitcher Josh Hancock.

The most recent announcement concerns troubled closer Jason Isringringhausen, but the list of ambiguous, injury-related, anecdotes also includes those of Scott Spezio, Mark Mulder, Chris Carpenter, Chris Duncan, Chris Perez, Albert Pujols, and Tyler Johnson.

What is genuinely surprising about all this that anybody is surprised in the first place.

No doubt, every team's medical staff -- not to mention everybody's personal physician -- has manipulated medical evaluations for some administrative or political advantage for either the patient or the organization. Everybody has biases, including the learned members of the medical profession. Professional sports teams and their medics are no different.

It's just that the St Louis Cardinals would appear -- while judgment could be withheld until all the facts are in -- much more clumsy than most. It would seem that nearly every medical report from the Cardinals front office must potentially be considered a half-truth or smoke screen, and must be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Maybe Dr. Paletta needs to put down his medical journals and watch more CSI episodes?