If I told you something you did everyday was dangerous, would you stop doing it?? Oh..you wouldn’t believe me?? Okay, okay. Well, what if I could prove it, ya know with facts?? Okay, so then you’d stop?? Cool. So why do baseball players still slide headfirst into a base or home plate?? Other than players thinking it looks cool, I have no freakin’ clue.
Seriously though, players believe it is faster and more effective than sliding feetfirst. Wrong. And wrong again. In 2011, Al Figone performed a study for Collegiate Baseball. He diagnosed all injuries (in MLB) caused by sliding, both headfirst and feetfirst. He found sliding headfirst caused nearly 40% more injuries than sliding feetfirst. The study also proved sliding headfirst only shaved .01 seconds (on average) off each slide. Also, in case of an errant throw, it is far easier to pop-up from a feetfirst slide. This would allow the runner to advance to the next base, while the headfirst slide leaves the runner busy wiping dirt off the front of their jersey. Your honor, the defense rests.
In certain cases, depending on the throw, will sliding headfirst be beneficial?? I’m sure it will be. But, the overwhelming majority of the time, the base-runner is playing with fire. Now kids..do you know what happens when you play with fire?? That’s right..you get burned. Very goooood. Take the most recent, headfirst slide casualties; Mike Trout and Gleyber Torres.
Mike Trout is the best baseball player in the whole wide world. He decided a long time ago he wouldn’t be sliding feetfirst, ummm, ever. He said, “it never felt comfortable”. It’s hard to argue with Trout, as talented as he is, but his latest headfirst slide did land him on the DL (for the 1st time in his career). On May 28th, Trout tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb, as he stole 2nd base (as pictured above). He had successful surgery, and his recovery is ahead of schedule (obviously). When asked if he will change the way he slides, he simply responded, “I’ll need to have more control when I dive headfirst from now on”.
And then there is New York Yankees’ top prospect, Gleyber Torres. Senor Torres will be undergoing Tommy John Surgery after tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow. I’ll give you one guess as to how that happened….
You got that right!! He tore up his elbow sliding headfirst into home plate on Monday. It is sad to see a player sustain this type of injury at anytime, but it is especially triste (that’s Spanish for sad) since Torres was on the fast track to the Majors this season. He was playing everyday for Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate Scranton Wilkes-Barre, and he was tearing it up. No pun intended. The reports say he’ll be ready for Spring Training in 2018. Hopefully he learns his lesson faster than Mr. Trout.
Habits are formed. New information surfaces. Habits evolve….hopefully.
Do you think players should slide feetfirst more?? Or do you enjoy watching headfirst slides?? Tell me your thoughts in the comment section below.
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