Josh Hamilton lost a month and a half of the season thanks to an ugly head first slide into home plate. So, logic dictates, he’s going cut that sort of thing out, right?
Nah. I didn’t see it, but someone in the comments told me that he slid head first twice last night. And here he was on ESPN Radio in Dallas yesterday, courtesy of Sports Radio Interviews, making it clear that he has every intention of continuing the Pete Rose act.
Why? Instincts, baby, instincts:
Head first slides. Will you ever do that again?
“Yeah. Yeah I still will. It’s just a reaction when you’re playing the game and playing it how you were supposed to be playing it. You know certain situations call for you to go head first instead of feet first and if the situation comes up again obviously I’m going to go head first. That situation has come up whether it be a triple and diving into third or stealing a base. Obviously I get off first base I have to dive back head first. I never saw anyone dive feet first back in.”
There’s a healthy debate about whether sliding head first is an advantage. I don’t have any real knowledge here, but my gut tell me that it is. Obviously on tag plays it gives you more maneuverability and stuff. Even on the pure speed play, it just seems like you’re better off going head first due to factors like momentum and center of gravity and stuff.
But I bet it isn’t so big an advantage that it’s worth the risk to someone as valuable and injury prone as Josh Hamilton. If I was his manager I’d rather he be thrown out on close plays ten times rather than see him diving into a bag. And as for that get-back-to-first-base stuff: Hamilton’s career high in stolen bases is nine, and it’s likely only going to go down from there. How about this: shorten the leadoff and, in the event of a pickoff play, do that run-back-to-the-back-corner-of-the-bag thing they taught us in little league.