You can’t see right now, but I am typing this with my neck cocooned in pillows like the lowest-rent version of Elizabeth Taylor, circa White Diamonds era. Earlier I spent twenty minutes scrolling my phone for the perfect Harry Potter candle for a friend for Christmas, and I guess my neck didn’t like the angle I held it at, because now every time I tilt my head it feels like Quasimodo himself is dangling from my trapezius. Getting old SUCKS, you guys. It is a constant and slow betrayal wherein your body starts to cheat on you, bit by bit, practicing for the day when it punts your immortal soul from its flesh-and-bones cage. It’s like being trailed every day by a cohort of petty, irascible, capricious gods who take turns winging lightning bolts into your joints when you attempt to complete such Herculean tasks as Picking Up This Paperclip I Just Dropped and Flipping on a Light Switch.
Of course, none of this stacks up to the very real pain a lot of people live in every day, people whose bodies seem intent on fast-tracking them to obsolescence. In 2015, 198 MLB players spent time on the DL. Some of these guys were just passing through but many more were DL frequent fliers. For all the consistency Edgar showed in his hitting, his body refused to cooperate. Beyond that, he had bizarre accidents, too, like when a ground ball took a bad hop at third and broke his nose, or when he tripped over a piece of unzipped field turf at an exhibition game and tore his hamstring. Here’s a brief timeline of Edgar’s injury history:
- 1988 (AAA) - Broken nose from a ground ball on a tricky hop. Off-season procedure to have patellar scraping/debridement on left knee.
- 1990 - Immediately after the season, has arthoscopic knee surgery to repair a torn ligament.
- 1992 - Immediately after the season, has arthoscopic surgery on right shoulder to remove bone chips.
- 1993 - Tears hamstring in exhibition game due to poor field conditions. Misses the majority of the 1993 seson.
- 1994 - Hit by a pitch on Opening Day. Strike-shortened season.
- 1996 - Collides with catcher John Marzano chasing an infield pop-up; cracks four ribs and misses 21 games.
- 2002 - Ruptured hamstring tendon; only appears in 97 games.
This is a devastating list, encompassing both the regular wear-and-tear you’d expect a player to experience over a long baseball career as well as some Michael Saunders/James Paxton-esque level of freak injury. Say, remember when Jack Z basically implied Saunders wasn’t doing a good enough job of keeping himself healthy? (Also, re-read Jack Z’s transcribed comments and take a second to appreciate our extremely articulate new GM). No one could could argue that about Edgar, whose work ethic is the stuff of legends. Even in the minors with the Chattanooga Lookouts, Edgar would be in the apartment complex’s tiny, stuffy weight room while the rest of his fellow prospects were lounging by the pool. Edgar, like Nelson Cruz after him, understands that of all the tools a player possesses, his body is the most important one and the only one within his control.
Except it’s not, is it. You take a weird step in an unfamiliar field or put your luggage down wrong or something pops when you go to put on your cleats or you can’t keep your hands off the goldarn drone (that one IS preventable, Trevor Bauer). Your body begins to enact a series of tiny humiliations against you and the spirit is willing but the flesh is so weak, laughably weak. The best you can do is keep pushing through the pain for as long as you can, or as long as makes sense, before admitting that Time is the only thing that finishes each season undefeated. Edgar never lost time dreaming about what could have been and so neither should we. But it’s difficult, when reading articles like this, not to kick something out of sheer frustration over how unfair life can be. All we can do is our best with whatever circumstances we’re given. Most of us are doing well if we get to 35% of our best on any given day, but that’s all Edgar ever did, and it’s time the voters recognize him for it.