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Has there ever been a more vague excuse for a player missing a game than the three words "flu-like symptoms"? We hear them on a regular basis, but they're rarely elaborated on. Was the player truly sick? Tired and falling over? Puking? Or did he just happen to have a really good night out on the town last night?

The cynical among us always assume the latter, especially after the famous stories involving Mickey Mantle and his late-night carousing. It's a much more exciting world when we imagine the scandalous, ulterior motives that our baseball heroes might have for missing a random game. All of a sudden, that wealthy, hard-working athlete is doing things that the rest of us can relate to, even if it is potentially self-destructive.

But do we have any reasons to believe that other than the Mick's legend? A quick Google News Archive search for "flu-like symptoms" yankees seems to show us that, cynicism aside, there are plenty of legitimate examples of "flu-like symptoms" ("yankees" was added as an easy way to limit the result to baseball news). For example, the front page of that search reminds us of the 1998 and 1999 World Series, where San Diego and Atlanta pitchers were both stricken by the diagnosis. Other examples include a lingering case for Jason Giambi and various starts by Yankees pitchers/opponents.

Continuing through the search results pull up the same types of examples. Players really are affected by these vague words "flu-like symptoms" on occasion. It isn't just an excuse for a fun night out. Not shocking, I know, but it's nice to be reminded of it on occasion.

NOTE: I must apologize for being so long away from the Wezen-Ball and Tater Trot Tracker beat this past week. As you might imagine from the topic of the post, I've been away thanks to a very annoying and hard-to-pin bout of "flu-like symptoms" all week (well, technically, pneumonia-like symptoms). Here's hoping that I've recovered enough to get back to things on a daily basis here.

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Denard Span went on the DL last week with "migraine symptoms". Fifteen days for a migraine. Hmmm. I'm not underestimating the pain experienced with a migraine (I get them myself) but... 15 days? Maybe they should say "brain tumor symptoms".
Some folks have very delibitating migraines, that may cause one to not be able to travel, be near bright lights, etc.
I heard Moose Skowron the other night on with Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson on XM talking about having the locker next to Mantle. Mantle asked him why he never went out with him and Skowron told him he wouldn't be able to handle the lifestyle. Farmer told Moose he would have run out of shoe leather. Moose also told of being paid to smoke cigs back then too. Of course he is recovering from cancer but he admitted to quitting cold turkey when he was 65. That had to be a chore and could lead to many flu like sypmtoms.
I spent a healthy chunk of time working for a hotel company in three different MLB cities that hosted plenty of visiting teams. I haven't run any p-values or anything on this, but I'm pretty confident there's a remarkably high correlation between "Staggering Through The Lobby At 4AM" and next-day "Flu-Like Symptoms."
I've always heard that "flu symptoms" means you have a cold or flu. But "flu-like" is just code for hung over.