The Cubs were all but eliminated from playoff contention over the weekend, thanks to a four-game home series sweep at the hands of the dreaded Cardinals. To add, uhh, injury to injury, third baseman Kris Bryant nuked his ankle Sunday and stands a good chance of missing all of Chicago’s remaining six regular season games. Bryant’s ankle turned sickeningly on the bag at first as he extended in an effort to beat a double play.
Jason Kendall will tell you that’s a relatively dangerous play under the best of circumstances, but Sunday was drizzly in Chicago and the bags, as a result, were wet. Conditions were not ideal. Whether the wet bags contributed to Bryant’s awkward landing or not, his agent, Scott Boras, is pissed at Major League Baseball for what he sees as a lack of progress on solving the problem of, well, wet things being slippery. Another prominent Boras client, Bryce Harper, suffered a bad ankle injury on a wet bag while playing for the Nationals in 2017, and Boras is frustrated to see another of his guys go down in similar fashion. Per the Chicago Sun-Times:
“What have they done since Harper? The answer is nothing,” Boras told the 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 [be] damaged when the safety of players is not at the forefront, and Major League Baseball has dropped the ball on the wet bag subject.”
MLB reportedly has looked into the matter and found that “no one has come up with a bag that has proven to be better safety-wise” under wet conditions than the bags currently in use. Boras suggests the half-measure of getting baseball’s umpires to “oversee regular toweling of bases during wet weather,” but he also identifies what might be the real culprit: MLB’s determination to play games under sub-ideal conditions. Baseball’s 162-game schedule is beset by weather delays and postponements, and Boras says a recent league push to “get the games played” during precipitation increases the danger, and can affect “playoff races and the entire safety of players, and the integrity of the game.”
As a viewer, let me say the very last thing baseball needs is more weather delays, but so long as the push to play through inclement weather increases the risks to players, Boras has a point. Interestingly, this particular peril isn’t the only one associated with MLB’s current bags. Breakaway bases, currently not in use by MLB, are recommended by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, to limit the potential for injuries caused by sliding. Seems like it might be time for MLB to do something different than a hard rubber bag! I personally suggest old T-shirts.