On May 28th of this year, a guy with the neck of Mike Trout, the speed of Mike Trout, the Power, OBP, AVG, Defensive Runs Saved and baserunning ability of Mike Trout slid headfirst into second base and tore a ligament in his thumb requiring surgery and an 8 week recovery. For those of you whose brains function at the same speed it takes Miguel Cabrera to scurry from 1st-3rd base, that guy was Mike Trout, who also happens to be the best baseball player in the universe. Yeah the universe, take that all you galaxies we know nothing about. It was a sad day for Mike Trout, for baseball and especially for the 27 people who attend Angels games. (See what I did there?)
As an aside, I went to a game in Anaheim this year and because there attendance is so poor, I had the revolutionary idea that on TV they should hire those same people who sit in the stands when you play video games so when you watch the game on tv, the stadium looks packed. When that trend begins, remember you heard it hear first. But I digress. Trout, the 2016 AL MVP and the player on pace for perhaps the greatest season ever before he got hurt missed nearly 50 games.
Let’s flash forward to July 19th 2017. A guy with the easy powerful swing of Kris Bryant, the defensive versatility of Kris Bryant and the smile and eyes of what we imagine G-d to look like, slid headfirst into third base and was taken out of the game for an injured finger. That guy was not G-d, as some of you may have thought, but rather, the 2016 NL MVP Kris Bryant. Bryant returned within the next few days which is great for Kris Bryant, baseball and the 42,000 people who attend Cubs games, but it could have been much worse.
If you haven’t done the math quite yet, I’ll help you out, both players are two of the best in the game and they both slid headfirst and one cost himself and his team a third of the season and the other got lucky. The moral of this PG rated Disney movie is simple: headfirst sliding, much like heroin, is a bad habit and you should stop doing it immediately. Studies have been done and there isn’t even conclusive evidence that sliding headfirst is faster than feetfirst. And even if Mike Trout and Kris Bryant were slightly faster sliding headfirst, the maybe two plays a season where the extra inch makes a difference between out and safe, is not worth even the slightest possibility they hurt themselves.
Ricky Henderson, the greatest base stealer of all time said he doesn’t know for sure, “but headfirst just feels faster.” When I walk around the earth it feels like it’s flat to me, but that doesn’t make it so. And despite the brilliant Kyrie Irving’s assumptions, on this matter I happen to be confident it’s not flat. Trout and Bryant get paid millions and 100% of that income comes from their hitting, fielding and baserunning ability which leaves zero dollars they get paid for sliding headfirst.
So just stop it.
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