The Dizziness Epidemic

Why are so many players leaving the field with "dizziness" this year? First, it was Conor Jackson who turned out to have Valley Fever - though all that means is that a fungus was detected in his system and that he had certain symptoms. Chances are that was just a working hypothesis. Then Joey Votto was dizzy, and it turned out he had an inner ear infection. But that, too, was just a guess, and now it turns out "stress" is the problem.

Denard Span left Tuesday's game with "dizziness," and it was the second time he'd suffered from the malady this week. It turns out that Jorge Cantu is also battling the mysterious affliction, which has now lingered for several days.

There are a few questions that come to mind in light of this: (1) Is there something unique to the 2009 baseball player that makes him more susceptible to being dizzy than the rest of us; (2) Is the entire population suffering from some bacteria or virus that causes dizziness, and it's merely exacerbated by the conditions under which baseball players play. In other words, if you have a desk job, you push through it, but if you have to track a ball in the lights in front of 30,000 people, you cannot; (3) Is this similar to the anxiety disorder proliferation in that players are only now comfortable admitting something's not right, whereas in the past, they would just play (often poorly) through the ailment without saying anything?

Whatever it is it also shows how woefully inadequate the very best doctors are in treating these players. I assume all major leaguers see first-rate doctors, and the fact that no common cause or even coherent explanation has been found is striking. Even Jackson who was diagnosed with Valley Fever can't feel too confident that's the cause. That ailment usually afflicts only those with weakened immune systems, not professional athletes in their prime. And if some other ailment weakened his immune system to make him susceptible to fungal infection, what is that? And why did Votto's "stress" have similar physical symptoms to these other players'? When Zack Greinke was stressed, he didn't claim to be dizzy at first.

Maybe it's just a coincidence, but I can't remember dizziness being a common reason for players to leave games unless it followed a recent concussion, and it's surprising that no explanation for the phenomenon has been offered at this point. In fact, I'm not sure baseball's even acknowledged it.


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