2014: The Year of Injuries in Baltimore Sports


Aug 11, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado (13) goes down with a knee injury after striking out in the third inning against the New York Yankees at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

When has there ever been a year like 2014 in terms of injuries for Baltimore sports teams? The storyline for both the Baltimore Ravens and the Baltimore Orioles in 2014 will have the theme of overcoming injuries in the first summary paragraph.

Injuries are a part of sports – from the first recreational league soccer match of elementary-aged children to the Super Bowl. Unless your name is Cal Ripkin, injuries are going to be a part of your sports life.

But the multiplicity of injuries in the city of Baltimore in 2014 was something quite unusual. Other baseball teams other than the Orioles had a lot of players go down this past year. It really hit the Tampa Bay Rays hard, as well as the Texas Rangers. The Yankees lost pretty much their entire starting rotation.

injuries are a part of sports – unless your name is cal ripken

The story of the Baltimore Orioles and their injury-riddled season of losing two stars in particular has been well documented. And the Birds accomplished their 96-win season by dealing with those injuries with a next-man-up excellence beyond what others with similar problems were able to put together.

But to say it one more time before the calendar turns over: Who would have ever believed that the Orioles could lose Gold Glovers and key ingredient players like Manny Machado for a half-season and Matt Wieters for 80% of the season, yet still run away with the American League East title?

Beyond these two, Chris Davis missed some time with an oblique injury (and the suspension, of course), while J.J. Hardy battled through back issues. The Orioles had previously hoped Dylan Bundy would be a part of the rotation by 2014, though he was recovering from Tommy John surgery. And just about the time Johan Santana was to make a possible comeback, he was lost for the season… and maybe more.

But the injury bug not only infested Camden Yards, it went down the street a few blocks to M&T Bank Stadium, dropping athletes in purple at an even higher rate than the guys in orange.

Again, football injuries are not rare, and the Ravens are not the only team to have suffered at a high level. But losing six cornerbacks in one year? That’s a bit weird.

Putting together a list will certainly mean several will be forgotten. But the problems began early with the year-long losses of defensive ends Kapron Lewis-Moore and Brent Urban. It was heartbreaking to see Dennis Pitta come back from so much, only to see him go down again on an odd, twisting play early in the season. The loss of cornerback Jimmy Smith is nearly inestimable for the Ravens. Beyond that and more recently there have been the injuries to Lorenzo Taliaferro, Terrence Brooks, Asa Jackson, Danny Gorrer, Morgan Cox, and Rick Wagner … to name a few.

It wasn’t this way 40+ years ago when I was a kid. Yes, there were a few injuries here and there, but the main guys were pretty regularly playing most games.

But now the games are faster, with bigger and stronger guys. The competition is more intense. And the margins are very narrow. To be the best, players and teams have to walk a fine line on the very edge, risking everything for the great reward that is just out of reach.

When players go down and other have to step up, it can make for some interesting storylines – like Steve Pearce and Caleb Joseph with the Orioles. Or Timmy Jernigan with the Ravens – who may be out with injury himself.

Even as these stories give us as writers a lot of interesting angles to cover and talk about. But as the calendar turns to another year, I am going to wish it to be a year of good health for the Baltimore sports teams. I think we all want to see the stars play more than anything.

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