Major league baseball players are keenly attuned to the dangers of their craft. They deal in pitched balls at high velocity, batted balls smashed all over the place, collisions with walls and other players, and slides and sprints that can tear muscles and ligaments. Things happen fast on a baseball field, and attentiveness is a skill that can keep a player in the lineup and on the field.
Wednesday night’s game at Busch Stadium between the St. Louis Cardinals and Arizona Diamondbacks highlighted for anyone paying attention that the sport can be dangerous and serendipitous at once. Starting pitcher Michael Wacha seemed under fire from heat-seeking missiles all evening, as he escaped with an out on a blistering line drive off the bat of Martin Prado. Wacha was falling off the mound to the left when the line drive beamed in on his head. He basically blocked the drive with his glove. It was harrowing to review.
Later, sitting in the dugout, a foul ball off the bat of Matt Adams deflected off Wacha’s right elbow. Medical staff rushed to check him out, and found bruising. Manager Mike Matheny then ended Wacha’s outing after six innings and 88 pitches. For those paying attention for a long time, the incident brought to mind the freak injury incurred by John Tudor, who broke his knee when Mets backup catcher Barry Lyons ran into him in the dugout chasing a foul pop-up in the 1980’s.
Crazy things happen. Sometimes bats are loosed into the stands. A drunken Angels fan recently snared a foul ball, and promptly fell back on an elderly woman, hurting her shoulder. Attendees, especially those in close proximity to home plate or down the lines, need to be on guard for flying projectiles and overzealous fans nearby.
Better that, than this:
There’s a lot to see at a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game. Pay attention, folks!