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Josh Hamilton's Head First Slide and Head Last Comments
I’m not sure Texas Rangers third base coach Dave Anderson has yet been pulled out from under the team bus that left Comerica Park last night. The Josh Hamilton bus, that is. Hamilton threw his third base coach unnecessarily under the bus, then backed over him a few times. Hopefully, Hamilton has learned to use his head first when commenting about specific plays soon after a game, and to use feet first when sliding into home.
A quick review:
Josh Hamilton, inserted as DH in the lineup yesterday to presumably give his body a break, triples in his first at-bat, ending with a headfirst slide into third. So far, so good. Adrian Beltre, the next batter hits a foul popup along the third base line. Third baseman Brandon Inge and catcher Victor Martinez converge as expected. But pitcher Brad Penny unexpectedly becomes a spectator instead of a player. Noticing that no one is covering home, third base coach Anderson allegedly insists Hamilton go for it, to try to “steal a run” as the Rangers often do.
Hamilton claims he didn’t like the idea, but obeys his coach and goes for it. Unfortunately, Inge and Martinez execute a quick slant route and Martinez easily beats Hamilton to the plate. Hamilton slides headfirst, gets tagged on his shoulder, and breaks his arm.
I’ve always felt that baserunning decisions like that should be made by the runner, not the coach. If a runner believes he can make it and the situation allows for the risk, then go for it. If the runner doesn’t believe he can make it, then he most likely won’t. The decision must be made so quickly, so instinctively, that once a decision is relayed from a coach to a runner, it’s too late anyway. Similar to a pitch getting away from the catcher, the runner must make a quick, decisive choice — on his own. To me, this situation was no different. But we’re not even having this discussion if Hamilton slides feet first.
I’m not sure who the first player to slide head first was. Pete Rose is the first that I remember. In fact, I remember spending hours during down times between pickup games at the ball park sliding head first over and over and over. Pete Rose slides, we called them. We also made diving catch after diving catch, and catches up against the fence, but those are for later blogs.
Points to make here: No head first sliding; runners make their own quick decisions on plays like this; and no throwing a coach or teammate under the bus — especially after sliding head first.