Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sliding Head First

Reigning AL MVP Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers injured his shoulder yesterday on a bizarre play. There was a pop up near the third base dugout. Both the third baseman and catcher ran to catch it, with the third baseman eventually making the play.

But on the play, neither the pitcher nor first baseman never covered home plate. Josh Hamilton was on third base.

Once the out was recorded Josh tagged up and sprinted to home. The third baseman flipped the ball to the catcher who raced Josh to home. The catcher won.

Josh slid head first trying to avoid the tag, but was unsuccessful. And in the process, he broke a bone in his shoulder and is expected to miss six to eight weeks.

Most youth leagues have outlawed head first sliding. Once you reach senior leagues, high school and beyond, head first sliding is legal, but is it safe?

And while head first sliding is part of the game, it should always be avoided at home plate. Josh Hamilton wasn't injured because of the catcher. It looked as though he was injured because of the slide itself.

Catchers wear shin protectors for several reasons, but one is to allow them to block the plate IF they have the ball and a base runner is trying to score. If a runner is heading home, the catcher is allowed to stand in front of the plate and block the runner from being able to touch home plate.

Your fingers and wrists are a lot more fragile than your feet. Try to always slide feet first, especially into home plate.

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