Yesterday afternoon Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton broke his arm sliding head first into home plate during a game against the Detroit Tigers. The reigning American League MVP is expected to miss six to eight weeks.
Here is what led to the injury. Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre hit a foul ball which Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge and catcher Victor Martinez converged upon with Inge catching the ball. While Inge and Martinez were converging on the ball, Rangers third base coach Dave Anderson noticed that no one was covering home plate. So Anderson told Hamilton to run home. Unfortunately, not only was Hamilton injured but he was also called out at the plate. The Rangers lost the game 5-4. To complicate matters Hamilton has publicly blamed Anderson for his injury:
It was just a stupid play. I definitely shouldn't have done it. I listened to my third-base coach. That's a little too aggressive. The whole time I was watching the play I was listening. [He said] 'Nobody's at home, nobody's at home.' I was like, 'Dude, I don't want to do this. Something's going to happen.' But I listened to my coach. And how do you avoid a tag the best? By going in headfirst and get out of the way and get in there. That's what I did.
Now if Hamilton had scored on the play and hadn't been injured, Anderson would have been praised for engineering a heads up play. Of course, things didn't work out and now Anderson is being second guessed both by the team's star player and by the baseball media. I sincerely hope the Rangers don't fire Anderson because it would not only send a message that it's okay to disrespect authority but that there are one set of rules for your superstar and one set for everyone else.
Of course, I understand Hamilton is upset that he got hurt and will now have to miss a significant portion of the season. But if Hamilton had a beef with Anderson he should have handled it with him directly inside the clubhouse, not with the nearest reporter. In the long term, I don't think the Rangers will be adversely affected on the field. After all, Hamilton missed nearly all of last September due to a rib injury and yet this didn't prevent the Rangers from reaching the post-season and winning the AL pennant. Despite yesterday's loss to the Tigers, the Rangers 9-2 record is the best in MLB. Still, Hamilton's response leaves a bad taste in the mouth. I hope Hamilton reconsiders what he has said and apologizes to Anderson both publicly and privately.
UPDATE: After a night's sleep, Josh Hamilton remains unrepentant. Hamilton told reporters this morning, I threw him under the bus by telling the truth about what happened." As of this writing, Hamilton has still not spoken with Anderson.