During the third inning of last Fridays night's game between the Phillies and the Mets, Jose Reyes was shaken up after diving head first into second base and jamming his head into Chase Utley's knee. He walked it off and was OK, this time.
Why do players insist on diving into a base when a traditional feet first slide would suffice? I'm sure Utley wasn't complaining. Given the choice I'm quite sure he would prefer Reyes head plowing into his knee than one of Reyes' spikes.
It has been documented time and again that a head first dive does not increase ones chances of being safe. But we do know that it increases the chance of injury. Players have been told this but they continue to dive every chance they get. Perhaps it's the "Sports Center" effect? I'll admit, a dive looks a lot cooler than a feet first slide. But is the game about self promotion or about winning championships?
When a player gets himself hurt diving into a bag, the team and the fans are the ones who suffer when the player is not available to play. Also, to a certain extent the networks who underwrite our national pastime lose when a start player is injured during a premier national telecast.
The solution to this problem is easy. During the next collective bargaining negotiation, put a clause in the contract that says that a player injured while diving head first into a base will not be paid for any games missed during his his injury. If that were the case, watch how quick Jose Reyes calls up one of the players from the 60's and hires him to coach him on a feet first slide. Which player making 12 million a year will dive into a bag knowing that stunt will cost him about $370,000? Is 5 seconds on Sports Center worth $74k per second???
Players like Reyes are more than happy to take a chance when they have nothing to lose. Let them chance their own money and see if the still want to dive.