An Open Letter to Jedd Gyorko

Dear Mister Gyorko:

As a footwear analyst I’m writing to share my opinions on your footwear choices. Although I’ve seen numerous pictures of your athletic footwear it wasn’t until I saw the picture of you and your wife in dress clothes that I was able to get a better view of your shoes. It looks to me as if your foot is wide, and your shoes are too long for your feet. I’m also wondering if you also have a short arch.

Without measuring your feet myself I can only make educated guesses about your arch length, but I believe that the combination of long footwear and short arch may have led to the development of your plantar fasciitis. While I couldn’t see this on your dress shoes, on other footwear it appears that there is a crease beyond where I’m imagining the ball of your foot to be, and the end of your cleats. That tells me that the shoe is breaking (bending) after your foot is when ideally these two events happen simultaneously in a pain free environment.

When people wear footwear that is too long for their arches they risk stretching their plantar fascia beyond its normal capacity. While the human body tends to be very forgiving it has limits. When the plantar fascia is routinely hyper-extended by footwear, bad things can happen and torn plantar fascia is no joke. While I’m neither a podiatrist or a medical doctor, I believe that if you ran this theory past someone with that level of experience and education, they would probably agree that footwear that does not fit can be responsible for a condition such as plantar fasciitis.

My concern for you if you are wearing footwear that is too long is that your plantar fasciitis will return because you haven’t addressed the root cause of the issue. While many people attribute plantar fasciitis to overuse, my observations of your footwear are leading me to believe that in your case it is a combination of participating in athletic activities while wearing footwear that is too long for you. I also have a suggestion for you if have not already done this. Have your feet measured by someone who will let you stand the way that you normally do.

Some practitioners move feet so they are parallel to each other which can skew a measurement. By capturing your normal stance and measuring your feet and arches as they are typically being used you will have the best indicator of your total foot and arch length. Once you have data you can start making some comparisons. For each foot you should have three numbers. You’ll need to compare your heel to toe measurements to those of your arch length. If your arch is longer than, or equal to, your heel to toe measurement, then my theory is invalid.

If your arches are shorter than that heel to toe measurement, your footwear problem is going to be more difficult to resolve. People with short arches can have a very difficult time finding footwear that fits, particularly if their foot is also wide. What often ends up happening is they buy longer footwear to get the width that they need, but this puts excessive stress on their plantar fascia, and can cause the toes to start tipping upwards. If this is the case, custom footwear will likely be your best option, and that can get pricey, but I believe that you will find it is worth the investment.

Whenever I observe a player whose footwear is working against them I mentally upgrade it and then make predictions about how those changes affect them. While there will be the initial strangeness of something different beneath your feet, that should be an easy transition for you. I would expect your shoes to feel much lighter and your step to have more spring in it as fatigue is reduced. Better fitting footwear will not immediately increase your speed and reaction time, but it can relax you to the point where you are able to make better decisions.

Your first step will be smoother and your foot will land more softly and precisely than it has previously. Over time I would expect your base running times to decrease as your speed increases. Defensively you are a greater threat when you can cover more ground. That should boost your UZR ranking and help your other defensive numbers. At the plate I believe that you will find yourself breathing more easily than you were. Pitchers are in for a surprise as you’ll be able to make better contact and draw more walks than you have in the past.

I thought about skipping this part, but decided to ask for a favor as you seem like the kind of person who would understand what I’m about to say. My footwear crusade has been largely driven by my own personal experiences as someone who has benefited from, and gotten screwed over by those working in the footwear industry. Several years ago people paid me to talk to them about strategies that would set them apart in the competitive diabetic shoe market. When I left my job there was a hole in my life that I tried to fill with soccer mom activities.

But then I saw how many kids that played with my daughters were wearing footwear that didn’t fit. My daughters took a goalkeeping class where I met their coach, a former Milwaukee Wave keeper, who told me his feet had been ruined by crappy footwear. The same parents who can afford club soccer and are traveling to games in expensive vehicles are some of the people who turn deaf when I explain what handing cleats down to the next kid in line is doing to young and growing feet. I want to change the way that athletic footwear is viewed and I believe you can help.

There are guys playing minor league ball whose footwear is just as bad as their pay and the food. Despite that many of them consider themselves fortunate to be where they’re at. Think about the kids who are buying Gyorko jerseys and going to games just to watch you play. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could pass along advice that they are unlikely to receive from anyone else? Stop and go back to your minor league days, were you wearing footwear that fit you well? How do you think that affected your game?

Today you have access to elite footwear minds. You can talk to a team podiatrist or trainer about your personal issues. You’ve been the recipient of top notch care, and I’m happy that those people are available to you, but what about those who aren’t as blessed? You have an opportunity to change the landscape of amateur and professional sports. Everyone needs to have their arches measured and it’s not happening at any level of any cleated sport that I can see. Measuring feet is not brain surgery or even hitting a baseball, but footwear that fits can help both the ballplayer and the surgeon perform his or her duties better, and shouldn’t everyone have access to that type of relaxed comfort?

During the Arizona Fall League season I had some opportunities to view farmhand footwear. While people like Mark Appel and Brandon Drury were a joy to watch, I also had to sit and wonder how long it would be before I learned that Bryan Ellington was injured. I saw a pair of 20 grade cleats and it’s frustrating to know that Sean Coyle would be better off playing barefoot from my point of view. It’s incredible to me that with all the technology that exists I am still seeing some of the footwear that exists at the MLB and MiLB level. What kind of an example are we setting for children and non-athletes if this is what the best of the best are wearing?

Each of us has gifts, and while I’m unsure how what I’ve written will be received, I wouldn’t feel right about not saying something when I know how hard you’ve worked and how much you’ve sacrificed to get to where you are today. People need hope and you’re in a position to tell people that your feet were measured if you choose to go that route. My campaign is a Twitter tag called #2Minutes2Measure and I would be eternally grateful if you would be willing to promote that. Two minutes is all it takes for someone like me to properly measure feet. Those two minutes have changed people’s lives and that’s what you could be doing if you are willing to ask people when their feet were last properly measured.

To close I’d like to say that my soapbox may not be yours. I understand that not everyone feels as passionately about footwear as I do, and that’s okay. When people say that baseball is a family, I believe that which is one of the reasons I feel like I can share these things with you. I don’t know anything about your life outside of baseball, or even much about you as an individual who gets to play what I view as the greatest game on earth. I felt like I had to reach out, to speak out, and I felt like you would at least entertain my suggestion that you have your feet measured.

Every day can seem like a battle at times, and I have a lot of respect for the people who have to deal with what professional athletes have to handle as they go about their daily lives. In my world all feet are not created equal, but they all deserve to be taken seriously, and now that I don’t work for a company outside of home maybe this is a little more important to me than it should be. But then I get the texts from a RHP I’ve worked with whose girlfriend slept with his best friend on prom night. He missed a year of college ball because he was recovering from Tommy John surgery and I think that it’s worth writing things like this so others who have issues that are larger than footwear will recognize that they’re not alone.

I’m sure you didn’t expect anything like this so I apologize if anything I said made you uncomfortable. You have a beautiful family and I know that they would like to be spending more time than they get with you which was perhaps the silver lining in missing so many games. I dislike begging people to use their social status to promote what I’m doing, but it’s also kind of cool to realize that by working together as a team we can accomplish so much more than we could as individuals. I wish you nothing but the best going forward, and if you are interested in learning more about how feet should be measured, or would like to ask me specific questions about your situation, please feel free.

I would also encourage you to have your children’s feet measured as soon as they’re ready for regular shoes as foot shape and type are inheritable traits and you will save yourself a lot of wasted time if you start with the measuring and go from there. It breaks my heart to see athletes of every age being ruined by footwear that doesn’t fit that they bought just because it has a swoosh on the side, but I can’t take on gigantic footwear companies by myself which doesn’t stop me from encouraging them to measure athletes as a way to enhance their careers.

As far as your career goes, I believe that changing your footwear will bring you unparalleled joy. It will affect aspects of your life that you don’t believe can be connected to footwear and once you experience what footwear can be, I won’t have to ask you to share this type of information with others. Please stop wearing footwear that doesn’t fit you well, and if there’s anything I can do to help you out, you know where to find me.

Warmest regards,

Jessica