Bryce Harper's injury could be blamed on bases

From ESPN - August 13, 2017

Should MLB and the MLB Players Association explore the question of whether bases could be composed of better materials?

Cal Ripken played in every game over 16 years, and one of his managers, Davey Johnson, once mused about how Ripken somehow circumvented serious injury despite the range of inherent risks -- errant pitches off his hands and wrists, runners sliding into Ripken at second base. And maybe the most consistent threat to the playing streak, Johnson mused back in 1996, was Ripkens habit of lunging for first base at full speed as he sprinted down the line, which made Johnson cringe.

If Ripken landed on the side of the raised base or the back of the leg of the first baseman, he might roll his ankle, Johnson said, or tear his Achilles, or slip and get hurt in some other way. It was the awkwardness of 200-pound-plus athletes running across the changing surface planes that concerned Johnson.

This causes injuries annually, with Bryce Harper the most recent and most prominent example. In his effort to beat out a hit, he lunged for first base, and in damp conditions, his foot slid across the bag, his knee locked and then buckled, and he had to be helped off the field. Earlier this year, the Nationals lost Adam Eaton for the year to a knee and ankle injury on a similar play at first base; similarly, Mike Trout was hurt sliding head-first into second base, tearing his thumb.

A question that would be worthwhile for Major League Baseball and the union to explore: In this time of advanced technology, could there be a better and safer composition to the bases -- particularly at first base?

Its a question as simple and as natural as whether theres a better face mask for catchers, or a better batting helmet for hitters.

Some coaches have noted in recent years that the bases are more rigid than they used to be. Some teams will swap out bases during the course of game action and sell the old ones as game-used, perhaps contributing to the diminished pliability.


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