Kris Bryant suffered a sprained ankle Sunday when he lunged for first base and found his foot slipping off the wet surface of the hard bag. His cleat caught in the soft dirt several inches beyond first and he rolled over his right foot with his full weight coming down on it. Initial x-rays were negative for a fracture and MRI results revealed a Grade 2 sprain, so it’s reasonable to assume Bryant will miss the rest of the season.
The situation was eerily similar to when Bryce Harper slipped on first base late in the 2017 season, coming away with a bone bruise in his right knee. It’s amazing that’s all he suffered, as anyone who saw it swore he’d torn his ACL.
Bryant and Harper don’t just share a hometown, they also have the same agent. That would be Scott Boras, who isn’t going to remain silent when it comes to the health — not to mention the potential earning power — of his clients.
“What have they done since Harper? The answer is: nothing,” Boras said Monday, per Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. “They’re focused on other factors, economic factors, all things relating to how they can administer the game, and yet the safety of players and resolution of this issue has gone without any attention.
“The integrity of our game is going to damaged when the safety of players is not at the forefront, and Major League Baseball has dropped the ball on the wet bag subject.”
For whatever reason, the league has not felt compelled to move to a softer bag that would surely mitigate the dangers of a hard, slippery surface. Since these injuries aren’t very common, there’s really no impetus for action. I’d honestly be in favor of them moving to a softball bag with an orange extension that cuts down on collisions and is not as unyielding.
That MLB is unconcerned with this aspect of player safety isn’t surprising, but the failure to act looms larger at a point in the season at which games are more likely to continue despite inclement weather. Because there’s little to no time to make up games, umpires are often tossing discretion out the window.
“It affects playoff races and the entire safety of players, and the integrity of the game,” Boras said. “When they are very diligent to get umpires and teams to play during rain, during precipitation, trying to get the games played.
“There’s been no discussion, no resolution, absolutely nothing done in this area except the player is to bear the burden of slippery and wet bags.”
Boras can be a blowhard whose florid rhetoric only serves to polish his own ego, but you can’t deny his hard work in the service of his clients. If you strip away the puffery, it’s easy to see that something should be done about the bases. If a simple change could eliminate injuries, even a small percentage of them in the grand scheme, isn’t it worth making?
I mean, MLB already changed the composition of the baseball to get more home runs. It only makes sense to soften the bag just a little bit to keep those hitters healthy so they can keep hitting homers.