DETROIT -- Josh Hamilton's injury has brought up all kinds of discussion when it comes to sliding on the bases.
ESPN.com's Buster Olney did a blog entry talking about how Hamilton messed up by not sliding feet first into home plate and he sites examples of other players who have been injured by not doing so.
Manager Ron Washington said players can get hurt no matter how they slide -- "if he breaks an ankle feet first we're wondering what might have happened had in gone in the other way" -- but added that all Rangers players are told to slide feet first into home plate. Why? Because the catcher has a lot of equipment and can do some damage and the thinking is that you've got a better chance of protecting yourself by going in that way. Of course, there are no guarantees.
But that way of sliding was reinforced to everyone on the team after Hamilton was seen walking around with a sling on and disappointed that he'll miss six to eight weeks. Nelson Cruz ran hard into home plate on Wednesday, but slid feet first safely.
Hamilton said that he slid headfirst because it gave him more options to avoid the tag. He could have slid out wide, tried to slip his hand in, etc. But plenty of players slide outside or inside the bag feet first and hook their foot around too. Many little leagues have rules that prohibit kids from sliding headfirst into bags to help prevent injuries. One rule of thumb is to slide feet first unless you're diving back to a bag on a pickoff play.
That's certainly easy to say when you're not chugging to second or third or home in an effort to change the outcome of a game. At that point instincts take over and the player's mission is to find a way to get his body on that bag before the tag is applied. I can't think many of them are thinking about injuries as they sprint toward the bag.
Was Hamilton wrong to slide headfirst? Would he have a better chance of not getting injured by sliding feet first? Was sliding headfirst the best way to attempt to score the run on a close play like that?