Smart Players Will Slide, Not Dive, into Bases
ALSO: READERS REACT TO RECENT WEEKEND COLUMNS
Did you know…
Newly-signed free agent Jose Quintana, the lone lefty in the Mets rotation, has tightness on his left side that could keep him off the Opening Day roster . . .
Ominously silent all winter, the Rockies pulled off a doubleheader sweep with March signings of lefty closer Brad Hand and slugging infielder Mike Moustakas (logistically the replacement for injured Gold Glove second baseman Brendan Rodgers) . . .
Oft-injured Tampa Bay ace Tyler Glasgow will miss up to two months with an oblique strain . . .
Mets third baseman Eduardo Escobar is playing left field for Team Venezuela and “taking it seriously,” according to New York manager Buck Showalter . . .
In the meantime, Mets teammate Carlos Carrasco, almost 36, is entering the walk year of his contract and hoping for a big season with free agency looming . . .
After making a two-day appearance at Port St. Lucie, retired Mets captain David Wright will return to CitiField in August to emcee the annual charity baseball game between the NYPD and FDNY . . .
The Giants are considering Joc Pederson as a lefty-hitting option at first base this season, manager Gabe Kapler says.
On Pee Wee Reese
“Taking issue: Pee Wee missed the 1963 [Yankees-Dodgers] Series. You did not specify Brooklyn Dodgers…you just said Dodgers….just saying.”
— David M Fenster DMD, Sports Director WIMG Radio, Trenton, NJ
No Kudos To Commissioner
“You are the only consistent voice that goes after ADD and I love it. He has a single mandate, make more money. And, the games are better with the pitch clock.”
— Howie Siegel, Glendale, AZ
On Game Times
“I know Peacock spent a lot of money to stream the games, but one thing baseball could do without is the 11:30 AM Sunday games that began last year. You could also make the case to get rid of the Sunday night 7 PM games.”
— Brian Greenberg, Mt. Sinai, NY
On World Baseball Classic
“Thanks for your recent IBWAA piece on the the WBC farce: ‘World Baseball Classic’ To Wreck Havoc with Spring Training.’
As long-time Mets fans, we can only second your views on how this years’s WBC will undermine spring training during a year of major rules changes — not to mention new team members and the need to solidify the overall team. I appreciate your candor which, sometimes, is more possible when you’re not employed by MLB — or must benefit from access to players and toe the line.
This is what I have written in comments, reflecting our disappointment with the situation and our deflated personal trip to Mets spring training for the first time!
‘As Mets fans for 20+ years, my wife and I FINALLY are able to attend a Spring training in Port St Lucie. We were so excited to get tickets — promoted well by the team by the way — rent an AirBnB and rent a car. We were ready to watch and meet our favorite players like Nimmo, McNeil, Alonso and others, to be able to finally get a closer look at our team players we have followed.
‘Then, slowly - because we had never heard of the ‘Classic,’ we began to hear that almost no one we expected to see would be there. AND, the US Team players would be in Arizona, not Miami. So, they wouldn't be coming up for some appearances prior to the next game. What a major disappointment.
MLB is apparently complicit in this farce that puts our players in a position to have a minimal Spring training experience for the fans and THEMSELVES, given the need to weave the team together and learn new rules to muscle memory. Not going to happen this spring. We are deeply disappointed.’
Anyway, thanks again for your piece on the IBWAA site. I’ll still be enjoying spring training, wearing a smile and sunglasses. Maybe the ball I carry will get signed by Luis Guillorme, another favorite player — skilled, versatile, committed to excellence. Or Baty, our future 3rd baseman. Though they may see him as a trading piece, given the current appetite for stars.”
— Paul Froehlich, MPH, New York City
Players Who Dive Into Bases Risk Serious Injuries
By Dan Schlossberg
With bigger bases, shorter distances between them, fewer pick-offs, and no infielders playing short right field, the stage is set for more stolen bases. Many more.
But it is also set for more injuries — some of them severe.
Although major-league managers insist they show players the proper, feet-first way to slide, far too many of the athletes blatantly ignore that advice.
They think they are showing off to the fans when they take flying leaps into the bases, sometimes even diving headlong into first!
Baseball history is filled with examples of how stupid that is.
Just last year, Atlanta lost second baseman Ozzie Albies when he broke his pinky on a head-first slide into second base. Compounding the felony, it happened on his second day back from a leg injury. Had Albies reached the postseason, the Braves might have been able to defend their 2021 world championship. Instead, the upstart Phillies knocked them out in the Division Series.
Albies, who hails from Curacao, is a smart ballplayer and a smart guy. After all, he speaks four languages fluently. But he doesn’t seem to remember what happened to his own team in the same situation just a few short years earlier.
Marcell Ozuna, trying to steal third base in Boston, instead slid hands-first into the hefty spikes of Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers. The result was two fractured fingers, a lengthy stay on the injured list, and a subsequent domestic dispute — perhaps triggered out of frustration — that nearly cost him his career.
Another sliding mishap, years earlier, involved National League Rookie of the Year Rafael Furcal. He slid hands-first into second, broke his wrist, and missed two months of the season.
There are countless other examples.
But there’s also a way to stop the foolishness.
Managers need to mandate fines for any and all players who dive for bases rather than slide into them. For one thing, feet-first slides are faster. But for another, they’re safer.
A $100 fine might not mean much for a player who makes millions but it’s the message that means the most. Enough embarrassment can cause anyone to correct the errors of their ways. And a clubhouse kangaroo court can work wonders.
At least it did in the Good Old Days of the game.
Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ is the author of 40 baseball books, including the brand-new Baseball’s Memorable Misses. He’s now on a book tour of libraries, civic clubs, and religious organizations. Email email@example.com.
“Competitive disparity, revenue disparity, and payroll disparity are real challenges. They are the biggest issues facing the Pittsburgh Pirates.”
— Pirates owner Bob Nutting as 2023 spring training opened
Minor League baseball players formed a union last fall in an effort to raise salaries that can be as low as $10,400 . . .
Regional broadcast rights for 14 major-league teams are in jeopardy after the Diamond Sports Group, a Sinclair subsidiary, defaulted on $140 million in interest payments due primarily to teams . . .
Hard to believe Hall of Famer Gil Hodges, then managing the Mets, was only 47 when felled by a fatal heart attack during 1972 spring training . . .
The Yankees are already suffering from more than their fair share of injuries, with newly-signed southpaw Carlos Rodon, fellow starter Frankie Montas, and center-fielder Harrison Bader all unlikely for Opening Day.
Know Your Editors
HERE’S THE PITCH is published daily except Sundays and holidays. Brian Harl [firstname.lastname@example.org] handles Monday and Tuesday editions, Elizabeth Muratore [email@example.com] does Wednesday and Thursday, and Dan Schlossberg [firstname.lastname@example.org] edits the weekend editions on Friday and Saturday. Readers are encouraged to contribute comments, articles, and letters to the editor. HTP reserves the right to edit for brevity, clarity, and good taste.