Junk, pain tolerance and answers.

I'm sure we all saw Jeff's recent post  regarding Rob Johnson, protective gear and recovery time. While there was excellent analysis and speculation as to Johnson's delayed recovery, we quickly hit an impasse due to data insufficiency,  and I felt the discussion soon became as productive as talking about the weather. Everyone always talks about the weather, but nobody ever does anything about it. 

So, I composed a respectful inquiry to Rob Johnson that will hopefully allow us to get the the bottom of it. I will be sending it in the next day or so. Please let me know in the comments if you would like to sign on. Remember, the more people that sign on, the more credible the letter becomes, and it will be more likely that we get a timely response. This is a lightly edited version of what I quickly banged out in the comments last night, including a roughly paraphrased plagiarism from the second paragraph of Jeff's original post.  

Suggestions for changes are welcome, of course. If anyone has some LLetterhead I can print this out on, that would be appreciated. 

May 20, 2010

Robert Johnson
Seattle Mariners
P.O. Box 4100
Seattle, WA 98194-0100


Dear Robert,

We are the members of the online community Lookout Landing, a website for Seattle Mariners fans who gather to watch and discuss Seattle Mariners Baseball. Though we doubtlessly have our differences in opinion on the keys to success for the club, we all come together around the ideal of using empirical data to form well founded, evidence driven conclusions regarding the intricacies of excellence in play at a modern, major league franchise.

Occasionally, however, we are reduced to guessing or regrettably even crass speculation due to the lack of inside perspective or accurate and quantifiable data. Highlighting this dilemma is the 93 mph Brandon League fastball you took to the junk on May 18th of this year, during the ninth inning of an already painful 5-6 extra-innings loss to the Oakland Athletics. While we were left with many questions about decisions made, opportunities missed and the future of the team, this play left us at a loss of both reasonable explanation and discernible fact.

Similar situations have happened to Mariners catchers past. For instance, in 2008, former Mariners catcher Kenji Johjima took an 88 mph fastball to the junk off of a foul tip. Yet the outcome of this situation was markedly different than what occurred last night. For instance, while over three full minutes elapsed between the fastball impacting your junk and the resumption of the game, as noted by the delivery of the next pitch, a mere 92 seconds passed between Roy Corcoran’s devastating blow and the resumption of play. Likewise, a 88 mph JJ Putz splitter which impacted Johjima’s junk in 2006 resulted in play being resumed in just 72 seconds—nearly a full two minutes less than your collapse and subsequent recomposition last night.

As a community, we are at a loss to explain this. One hypothesis is that the extra 5 mph on your junkshot contributed as much as an additional 1/3rd joule to the force of impact. Perhaps there is an exponential, nonlinear relationship between joules and down time for foul tips to the junk. However, an equally likely explanation is an equipment malfunction due to incorrect placement. Should your protective gear have ridden up slightly higher than the manufacturer recommends, your lower junk could have been inadequately protected from the full force of impact. Lastly, additional downtime on your part could be potentially attributed to a “pinching” scenario, where the protective measure was in turn used to relay kinetic energy upon junk not properly stowed away under its crucial expanse.

While the precise measurements of velocity, mass and time represent data that are readily available to us, it is clear that the specific information we need to satisfy our inquiry and add to the understanding of baseball is beyond our collective grasp. We respectfully request that you take the time to satisfy this inquiry, and greatly appreciate your candor in doing so. Your perspective is welcomed and eagerly awaited.

In closing, we would like to express that we by no means are making light of this situation, and have the utmost empathy for your actions. Throughout our discussions on this topic,  we have repeatedly excused the time elapse. No man or woman on this website who has ever been hit in the junk would condemn another man for not taking it well when they are hit in the junk. 

Thank you for taking the to read this, and best of luck with the rest of the season.






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