Fallen Giant Eugenio Velez "OK," Ball Park Reporting Is Not

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Fallen Giant Eugenio Velez
Harry How/Getty Images

Eugenio Velez is "doing OK," according to the San Francisco Giants medical staff after he was hit in the head by a foul line drive off the bat of Pat Burrell on Saturday night in Arizona.

The 28-year-old utilityman went through tests at a Phoenix hospital where he spent the night. The Giants finish a four-game series in Arizona on Sunday.

Reports indicate that Velez suffered a concussion. Manager Bruce Bochy confirmed after the game that the player did not suffer a fractured skull and that he, initially, "wasn't really responsive."

The incident and attempts to follow up on the condition of the fallen player have shown exactly how ill-equipped members of the sports media in the ball park are to actually track down information not directly related to the game.

When Velez was hit and knocked down by Burrell's scorching liner into the dugout, the Giants TV team of Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow didn't bother to even consider that there could've been an injury, let alone a serious one.

Krukow did note, fairly quickly, that "somebody might have been hit."

The Comcast Bay Area camera crew showed Barry Zito, Matt Cain and others looking visibly upset. The Giants training staff was scrambling to treat the fallen player.

All the while, Kuiper and Krukow were speculating about who was down and where the ball hit the fallen player. Someone from Comcast could've gotten some information to help the crew.

Minutes after Velez went down, the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper website "Giants Splash" blog reported that Velez had been struck by a line drive in the dugout.

The post headline read: "Velez struck in head by Pat Burrell foul ball. It appears serious."

The beat writer's initial report read: "I can't see into the dugout from the press box and the TVs up here are showing an Arizona feed. So thanks to my many Twitter followers who reported seeing on the Giants' broadcast that Velez was removed from the dugout..."

The press box is filled with media folks as well as media relations employees for both teams. Someone could have, and should have, gone downstairs to get whatever information was available about Velez -- and then share the information with everyone in the press box.

Later in that initial blog, it read: "Velez is on the way to the hospital...will provide updates as soon as I get them, of course."

Henry Schulman did update the results of tests on Velez, as promised, in his game story after the Giants beat the Diamondbacks 10-4.

The blog post simply detailing a potential "serious" injury was still posted as the lead item near five hours after the incident. It's not Schulman's job to update and maintain the website while he's writing a game story on deadline, to keep it current. Someone in the San Francisco office should've changed the headline on the initial post -- or added the information regarding the results of the hospital tests.

The value of online reporting is, in theory, that information can be made available immediately.

Typically, it took only minutes for blogger Adam Jacobi at sbnation.com to produce a poorly conceived opinion piece merged with the news report.

In it, Jacobi went from reporting on the near tragedy to suggesting that all players might soon be required to wear protective helmets in the dugout.

And, he mixed in some ill-timed levity.

"He (Velez) was taken from the dugout by stretcher and rushed to a local hospital. There's no video available," Jacobi wrote, "but unless Eugenio Velez owes you a substantial sum of money, you do not need to watch him get hit in the head with a baseball."

Jacobi proceeded to show that there is a noticeable difference between a reporter and a blogger. He wrote the following while Velez was en route to the hospital with an undiagnosed, potentially life-threatening, injury.

"When the extent of Velez's injury is known, it'll likely spark some debate about whether it's still within baseball players' best interests to not wear more protective headgear in several situations..."

Any fan who saw Burrell's liner steam into the dugout and knock Velez down was far more concerned about the extent of the injury than whether it would "spark some debate" about players wearing helmets in the dugout.

Velez is, thankfully, on the mend.

The state of news-gathering efforts at big league ball parks remains in doubt.

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Ted Sillanpaa is a Northern California sports writer and columnist. Contact Ted at tsillanpaa1956@gmail.com

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