Don’t Work When You’re Sick

The Cubs-Cardinals baseball game last night gave a good example of why you don’t want to work when you’re sick.

Pitcher Jaime Garcia had finally made it back to the majors after years of rehab for various injuries, and he wasn’t about to let a nasty stomach virus stop him from starting his first playoff game.

Except, well, maybe he should have. And it bit Garcia and the Cardinals squarely in the ass in the 2nd inning.

With a runner on third, the batter bunted (for non-baseball fans: used a specific way of lining up his bat to get a dinky little hit designed to be difficult to play). The ball went to Garcia, and that’s where things got bad.

Garcia just kind of stood there for a second, which is an eternity in baseball. The runner headed for home crossed the plate and scored. His slow reaction already had already cost the Cardinals a run.

Then, he dug himself even deeper. He realized he still had a shot at getting the runner headed to first, but he was so turned around that he threw the ball well to the left of the first baseman, and out into right field:

garcia throws it away
(imgur in case MLB pulls the gif)

The Cubs wound up with runners on first and third again, when it should easily have been at least one out. As a Cubs fan, I was a bit smug about this, as it kicked off a 5-run 2nd inning in a game the Cubs eventually wen on to win.

But when they later announced that Garcia had left with a stomach virus, I knew how he felt. I have pushed myself to work when I’m sick because I desperately want to make something work, or I have a deadline, or I just feel like I need to in order to be there for my team.

And every single time, I have made mistakes similar to those of Jaime Garcia: Mistakes that if I weren’t sick, I would never have made. Mistakes which compound upon each other to make things a thousandfold worse.

When you’re sick, you are working with less than your full physical and mental capacity. And because you’re sick, you’re not always a great judge of exactly how far below your full capacity you’re actually working.

It would have sucked for Jaime Garcia to tell his team “Guys, I haven’t slept in two days and I’ve been puking nonstop. I can’t pitch today.” But the Cardinals could have brought someone in from the bullpen, and that inning probably wouldn’t have gotten away from them the way it did.

So next time you want to be a hero and work when you’re feeling like shit: Think of Jaime Garcia, and realize that sometimes working sick can do far more harm than good.