With Major League Baseball in the 2nd half of the season and now approaching the playoffs (the best time of year), I wanted to follow-up on my colleague Dr. Mickey Cohen’s experience working with athletes from the World Baseball Classic earlier this year, by sharing my experience from here in Los Angeles.
The championship series of the World Baseball Classic was held at Dodgers Stadium on March 20, 21 and 22 and I had the honor of being contacted by MLB to provide chiropractic care to all home and visiting teams at the venue. Puerto Rico and USA utilized my services as a chiropractor, but even though I work with MLB players on a regular basis, this event had a special energy around it.
The United States (who beat Team Japan to get to the finals) had to beat a tough Puerto Rico team (who beat Team Netherlands in the semis) to win the championship. The Puerto Ricans, bonded with blond-dyed hairdos and played out in front of noisy fans traveling from everywhere, came into the final undefeated, having won all seven of their games and having defeated the U.S. earlier. But they ran into an impressive pitching performance from the U.S. Team, who responded by winning 8-0.
My day started early and I had to arrive approximately 4 hours before games. I was stationed in the Dodgers training room (which was a familiar setting and happened to be the home team’s locker room) for each game, where I would take care of that team first, which happened to be Puerto Rico. It was great seeing guys from different teams that I have treated throughout the years. We even had a Dodger player that I take care of during the regular season on the PR team (Kike Hernandez), which also helped with the comfort level of other players to see that we knew each other and had worked together.
When Puerto Rico went out for batting practice, I would go on the field and watch a little, and then I would take my table to the other side of the stadium and treat the US (the “away” team). It was great catching up with guys on that team, as well as catching up with the trainers from different teams.
The trainers were my first line of communication. They would recommend certain players to come and see me. They would give me any pertinent medical history and why they felt they needed an adjustment. However, once players saw me treating guys, they would come up and ask for an adjustment as well. I would always clear it with the trainer first (which was never a problem) and then I would adjust them. It always amazes me how far we’ve come as a profession and a lot of thanks needs to be given to guys who came before us and paved the way. So if you work with athletes and ever come across a DC who’s older than you, make sure you thank them, because it wasn’t always like this.
During the regular season I stop treating the Dodgers when the game starts. But with the WBC, the Puerto Rican head trainer asked me to stick around. He had me treat a couple of players in-between innings and after the game.
One of the highlights was getting invited to go watch the game in the MLB suite and watch the game with the head medical director of MLB Dr. Gary Green. It is nice being a part of a medical team like this. All the doctors on hand got along and hung out. No one had an ego and we were all on the same page. If you want to learn more about working with professional athletes and baseball in general, please check out the Professional Baseball Chiropractic Society and join us this fall at Life University for the Baseball and Sports Performance Conference.