In August of 2017, Bryce Harper suffered a significant bone bruise after slipping on a wet first base bag and hyperextending his left knee. He ended up missing a month and a half of what was shaping up to be an MVP-caliber season.
At the time, Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, ripped MLB for allowing game play to occur when the bases were wet. He suggested having someone wipe down the bases when the ball is not in play like the NBA does with wet floors during stops in action. He also demanded that MLB put some effort into studying ways to make the bags less slick when it rains. As we noted at the time, there are some practical limits to what can be done in such situations and wondered whether making bases tackier or whatever might lead to different kinds of injuries, but Boras’ feelings were at least understandable.
This past weekend another Boras client, Kris Bryant, sprained his right ankle after landing awkwardly on a wet first-base bag while trying to beat out a double play against the Cardinals. The rest of his season — and the Cubs season for that matter — is in doubt. And, yep, you can bet Boras is still mad about the wet base situation. Here’s Boras, venting to the Chicago Sun-Times:
What have they done since Harper? The answer is nothing. 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.”
Again, understandable. And Boras is probably right that MLB has not done much about this, as I presume they think, not unreasonably, that these are freak accidents. Which is not to say nothing should be done, but it may simply be a matter of having the first base coach carry a towel in his back pocket on gloomy days and give the bag a wipe down once in a while as opposed to launching an R&D initiative or something.