Dangerous Footwear Systems

I love baseball. This list makes me very sad.

Bassitt, Chris:

Improperly fitted footwear endangers the wearer and others to the degree that it is unstable and unpredictable. Watching Chris Bassitt fight to keep his footwear on was terrifying. I believe that it’s too tall, possibly too wide, and that he may have a narrow heel. Every time he lifts his foot he’s carrying his footwear with him instead of it acting as an extension of his body. It’s astonishing to me that he’s able to throw anything toward the plate given how his footwear system is failing him.

Grade: 20

Recommendation: Length seems appropriate. Reduce vertical height to increase foot and footwear contact. Physical therapy to retrain muscles that have been misused. Proceed with caution.

Greinke, Zack:

From the ankles up I get lost in watching Greinke pitch. His footwear makes me nervous for several reasons. I believe it’s the wrong shape for his foot, I believe it may not be long enough for him, and I feel as if the color and style are at odds with his personality which robs him of confidence in his footwear system.

His name is here because periodically I run into people who think that color is irrelevant. Would manufacturers offer us choices if color is meaningless? I vote no. I have a system that I use to help me determine what colors and textures may work well for someone. Shape is the most important footwear concept, color is right behind it. I might not state that color takes precedence over size, but I think it at times.

Grade: 50

Recommendation: Study bare foot to determine shape. Ideally I see him in the shade of gray that Chris Colabello and Buster Posey prefer.

Tulowitzki, Troy:

Every time I see Tulo I feel bad for him. It seems to me that he’s in a lot of pain and I wonder how much of that can be attributed to his footwear and posture. Constructing what if scenarios is futile, but in my opinion he’s a Hall of Fame player given better fitting footwear from day one. You probably have an opinion on that and you’re welcome to it. This is mine and I like it.

If I could talk to him I would ask him if he feels like he’s responsible for things that are beyond his control. I think Troy is a fun guy who needs to accept that about himself. Fun people fill a necessary and important role in a team situation. In my dream world he and Zack Greinke switch footwear and both feel better once they’re accustomed to the change. I think they bring different things to the table and would work well together in a team setting if mutual differences were respected (and I believe that they would be).

Grade: 50

Recommendation: This is another case that I think would move quickly. Identify foot shape, make sure that he has enough length and width for his foot to do what it needs to when he’s batting or fielding. Match footwear to his personality and watch his confidence in himself grow.

Myers, Wil:

For a long time I had a serious problem with Wil Myers and his footwear. Most of my job is recognizing what is right. People like Wil Myers give me trouble because when there’s more wrong than right I worry about them setting themselves up for chronic issues. He hasn’t been healthy enough to play many games, but I can’t blame a broken wrist on his footwear.

Grade: 50

Recommendation: There’s work to do, but I don’t see anything about him that makes me think he would be a complicated case unless he doesn’t feel like there’s a problem with what he’s wearing. The most important aspect of a footwear consult is the trust between people. I can only work with people who trust me, and sometimes there are personality conflicts that make you unfit to work with someone else. I’d rather see him continue to wear what he has than to get into it with him or anyone else. This would be a good case for a colleague of mine if I had one.

Belt, Brandon:

I tend to group people in my mind. Brandon joins Greinke, Tulo, and Tyler Clippard as one of the players whose 2015 footwear is at odds with what would really work well for him. It’s heavy, dark, and seems stiff. I feel bad and frustrated for him, fortunately I think he’s another person who would be fairly easy to work with if he was willing to experiment with different colors and styles. I’m not a medical anything, but I’d like to hear what a professional has to say about valgus knee stress.

Grade: 50

Recommendation: This may not seem like the obvious starting point, but I’d like to learn why he favors the high socks. I would steer him away from black which would mean trying longer pants if he’s open to that look. As far as color goes, I’d like to see how he feels about the color scheme Buster Posey favors. Hang in there Brandon, better footwear is out there.

Moreland, Mitch:

Part of the problem with Mitch Moreland is I happened to see him on the same day I had the opportunity to observe what Mark Canha was wearing. The night and day difference may have affected my initial evaluation, but subsequent appearances haven’t altered my feeling about his footwear. I recently read that he was playing with a stress fracture and immediately wondered if footwear played a role in his injury. For some reason he rubs me the wrong way and since I’ve never met him in person, I’m going to assume that it’s me and not him. He and Wil Myers are better off without a second mom in their lives.

Grade: 50 (I really want to put 40, but I’m trying to adjust for bias)

Recommendation: Podiatry visit and footwear consult. Apologize for being a venomous bitch with a terminal case of footwear snobbery.

Cabrera, Miguel:

This is where baseball loses me because I can never appreciate his bat the way that others do. I start at his feet and rarely get a chance to move upward. I understand he has knee problems, and I’m not surprised. Someone has worked with him, I can see that, but I wonder what he’s going to do when he’s done playing baseball and can hardly move without some degree of pain.

Baseball players tend to be young. Men like Bartolo Colon and David Ortiz are rarities. Youth has trouble believing that the body parts they have are going to age more rapidly with heavy stress than they will if they are properly maintained from the beginning. I feel really bad for him, and I’m not sure there’s a lot that can be done for him at this point in time.

Grade: 60

Recommendation: I’d like to see how he feels about a lighter color scheme, but I wouldn’t do much outside of that. Know when to fit, know when a case is beyond your level of knowledge and expertise.

Ortiz, David:

Once upon a time I either read or heard that Ortiz claims he can wear anything from a nine to a thirteen. I’m here to tell you that while this may be theoretically possible, it is inadvisable. This is why baseball needs a footwear selection and distribution system that puts player safety ahead of dollars from footwear contracts. Ortiz has gotten away with this which makes him fortunate. Systems and process rather than luck should be driving footwear choices. Luck has a funny way of running out on you when you need it most.

Grade: 60

Recommendation: Ortiz has a keen sense of personal style. I have a hard time envisioning sitting him down for a footwear consult so I’d probably just chill out and appreciate the fact that he’s a colorful product of a flawed system. It’s not up to me to change the world or Big Papi.

Familia, Jeurys:

During the postseason and the World Series games I said numerous prayers that Terry Collins would take his bullpen in for footwear consults. The problem with the World Series is you don’t want to change anything on anyone that could alter the way that they pitch or field, and it takes time to adjust to new footwear systems. Familia, Clippard, and Reed all seemed to be wearing the same style of footwear and it didn’t work for any of them.

The Royals had the footwear advantage going into game one. Footwear isn’t the be all and end all of any sport, but how does the outcome change if Cespedes catches the Alcides Escobar hit or Matt Harvey has different footwear and pitches a complete game instead of leaving in the ninth inning? Could footwear make that kind of a difference? I don’t know. I think it’s within the realm of possibility and less far fetched than scenarios I’ve entertained previously.

Grade: 50

Recommendation: The Mets have a uniform that is very hard to work with in my opinion. From what I’m seeing the problem won’t be Familia’s foot which I think needs some extra length, width, and height, it’s going to be finding anything that looks good on him and the uniform he’s required to wear. Custom cleats are a place to start. In my world he gets traded to the Brewers, Toronto, the Dodgers, the Royals, Rays, or the Padres. I know baseball doesn’t work that way. That’s just what I want for him.

Gordon, Alex:

You just read a sentence where I stated that the Royals had the footwear advantage going into the World Series. Here’s an exception to that rule and I would include Mike Moustakas in this conversation. After investigating a conspiracy theory that these men were spearheading a group wearing footwear designed to make me nervous I concluded that Ned Yost has better things to do with his time.

Grade: 50/60 (Moustakas has slightly better footwear in my opinion)

Recommendation: Sometimes I have strong brand, color, or style ideas, and sometimes I pray for inspiration. I’m leaning toward trying gray with Alex Gordon and giving Mike Moustakas a basic black leather cleat. Probably a fairly smooth transition with minor adjustments once we iron out the fundamental shape/size issues.

Beltre, Adrian:

This is hard for me to write. Adrian Beltre is one of my favorite third basemen and I can hardly stand to watch him play because of his footwear. He’s been playing for so long that I can’t see him being comfortable with a footwear change. Ditto for his teammate Elvis Andrus, but there may be hope for someone like Delino DeShields who reminds me of Curtis Granderson. It says a lot about the 2015 Rangers that they went as far as they did with the footwear they had. Rougned Odor has footwear that I like, but he was the sole infielder wearing something I would have passed had I been there to hand out footwear grades.

Grade: 50

Recommendation: Footwear consult and frank chat. Determine level of trust and go from there. Probably an easy case as far as footwear upgrades go, but it’s going to feel very strange to wear a different size. My sense is that he’s a routine person who dislikes change. I would tread very lightly here once I got past my initial awe.

Krol, Ian:

Ian Kinsler is also on this list, but Ian Krol is more problematic from my point of view so I chose to give him more attention. I’ve made a lot of poor choices in my life, many of them because I didn’t know any better. I believe that’s the case with Ian Krol, or at least I hope it is since I’m struggling to come up with a scenario where the footwear he has was the best of the possible choices.

Footwear shape is the most critical component; if shape is your problem there is no easy fix. You have to go back to the beginning and start over which is what I would do with him if he was a client of mine. We can work with Doug Fister and Stephen Strasburg if they’re willing to have their footwear evaluated along with his. I didn’t see many 2015 Nationals wearing footwear that I felt comfortable with although Bryce Harper has potential and Ian Desmond was a treat. Hopefully Dusty Baker addresses the footwear issues before Opening Day 2016.

Grade: 40

Recommendation: The nice thing about very dysfunctional footwear systems is that these people benefit the most from upgrades. There’s nothing I’m seeing that leads me to believe he lacks anything other than a systematic footwear evaluation. I’d love to observe a before and after situation where we have him pitch in his regular footwear and then get the same footage of him in better fitting footwear. I think he’s the ideal candidate for a footwear swap and would hang onto him if he does what I think he could given a more stable and reliable base. Ignore the haters Ian, it’s not you, it’s your shoes.

Clippard, Tyler:

I wrote a separate piece on him that I never posted. In that he leaves baseball for golf. He isn’t wearing the worst footwear in baseball, but his makes me the saddest.

Recommendation: Transition to PGA, enjoy exploring ruined castles in Ireland, romance tempestuous cellist.

Conclusion:

The other day I wrote about elite footwear systems. In the future I’d like to list players by team and position. Apart from Miguel Cabrera these are players that I think would look and feel better after a one hour footwear consult that includes evaluating their bare feet, measuring them properly, and getting them into something that fits them and their personality.

As an expert I operate at the most basic and fundamental level footwear has. For some of these players a footwear change isn’t going to make a tremendous difference in the here and now. Adrian Beltre is already great, but for someone like Chris Bassitt or Ian Krol, this could be a game changer. Nobody questions that Tulo is good and it’s not always about increasing performance.

Footwear is like food, water, sleep, and other basics. Anytime you cut corners on a fundamental, you run into problems. Baseball careers can be brutally short. These people are being done a great disservice and so are their fans, coaches, managers, front office, and owners. I’ve framed this as a baseball project, but my hope is that this type of analysis and information will spark conversations and effect change outside of the baseball cocoon.

There are fewer than a thousand Major League Baseball players, millions of people watching them, and billions of people on this planet. It’s my belief that we all have footwear needs without a system that guides us to products that have half a chance of meeting them properly. It makes me sad to write posts of this nature, but I feel like I don’t have a lot of choice in the matter.

Baseball is a game and if we’re keeping score poor footwear choices are responsible for some percentage of injuries and discomfort. I’d like to see that change. What about you? Are you in?

Saberfeet: How safe are your feet?

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