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Why didn’t Josh Hamilton just stay at third?

Apr 13, 2011, 11:07 AM EDT

Josh Hamilton injury Getty Images

There’s a lot of chatter today about the play that resulted in Josh Hamilton breaking his arm yesterday.  A lot of it — most notably from Buster Olney — involves questioning his head-first slide.  I’m not too impressed with that line of thinking. Lots of guys — most guys, in fact — slide head first.  Maybe it’s not ideal, and maybe it’s not what should be taught to kids, but it’s certainly accepted now, and it’s not like you change those sorts of habits.

The real question I have is why Hamilton was even going in the first place.  And not just because it seemed like the wrong kind of ball to take that kind of chance on. Hamilton actually agreed with that in real time and publicly criticized his third base coach over it after the game (“I was like, ‘Dude, I don’t want to do this. Something’s going to happen.’ But I listened to my coach”).  Throwing the base coach under the bus like that didn’t reflect particularly well on Hamilton, but what reflects worse on Hamilton is going along with the bad call anyway.

Josh Hamilton is the reigning AL MVP.  He’s the centerpiece of the Texas Rangers offense.  While you don’t want players shirking the authority of the coaches, if the player is a superstar with the baseball instincts of Josh Hamilton and, if as Hamilton said was the case here, he has a strong feeling that something bad is going to happen on the play, the player should substitute his judgment for that of the base coach. Ron Washington isn’t going to put Josh Hamilton in the dog house if he ignores the coach on a play like that.  Young players aren’t going to henceforth ignore the coach’s instructions.  Hamilton should have gone with his gut and stuck at third.

Or, if he simply felt that he had no choice in the matter and had to do what the coach said, he sure as hell shouldn’t have come out and criticized the guy after the fact.  I mean, if you’re going to follow military protocol in following orders, you should probably follow military protocol in not questioning them later.

  1. sabosgoggles - Apr 13, 2011 at 11:17 AM

    On a scale of 1-10, how tasteless would it be to suggest that Hamilton slid head first for the same reason Rock Raines used to?

    Just curious.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Apr 13, 2011 at 11:32 AM

      While not exactly the same, Bobby V insinuated that since Hamilton made bad decisions in doing drugs, he’ll keep making bad decisions.

      • Old Gator - Apr 13, 2011 at 11:54 AM

        For that matter, why didn’t the Donner party stay in Utah?

      • Utley's Hair - Apr 13, 2011 at 12:49 PM

        They were hungry and wanted some takeout?

      • Old Gator - Apr 13, 2011 at 1:16 PM

        Which explains why they ate the bodies first but saved the horrible horsemeat and Velveeta sandwiches for an emergency, eh?

      • Utley's Hair - Apr 13, 2011 at 1:36 PM

        Speaking of…I think I feel an emergency coming on for lunch today…

      • Gardenhire's Cat - Apr 13, 2011 at 3:02 PM

        I don’t think that’s completely accurate.. Bobby V said because Josh Hamilton made ealier bad decisions with drugs, he will not be able to take medication now and heal faster from this injury

    • sabosgoggles - Apr 13, 2011 at 1:47 PM

      Based on the thumbs, looks like about a 7. Thanks! This will help my research.

  2. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 13, 2011 at 11:18 AM

    Guys run for home on aggressive plays every day. Guys slide headfirst every day. Frankly, Hamilton belly-flopped and broke his arm. It was a bad, unnecessary slide, and that is on Josh Hamilton. At some point, his ‘baseball instincts’ have to include things like giving himself up when he is obviously beaten to the plate, or letting a fly-ball bounce to avoid smashing into a wall.

    It’s time for him to to incorporate his own fragility into his baseball instincts , so he can make smart decisions geared toward self-preservation. Being a ‘gamer’ doesn’t help if it means he misses 2 months out of every year.

    • cur68 - Apr 13, 2011 at 11:24 AM

      Clearly Josh hamilton isn’t a ‘gamer’. He’s more the natural athlete with great instincts type. Gamers think more. Especially before opening their mouths.

  3. isdtyrant - Apr 13, 2011 at 11:21 AM

    I fully agree that throwing his coach under the bus was in poor taste. Like you said, if you were just following orders, then you simply state that, and don’t criticize the choice afterwards.

    As far as substituting his own judgement for that of the coach, this points to a much larger question: When is it okay to ignore a coach, because you feel your judgement is better?

    Hit-and-run? Take sign on a 3-0 pitch? Sacrifice bunt?

    • The Baseball Idiot - Apr 13, 2011 at 1:07 PM

      Those things usually come from the manager, and are a strategy decision.

      Running from third is the coach’s decision, and a judgment call on the spot.

      Different scenarios.

  4. purnellmeagrejr - Apr 13, 2011 at 11:36 AM

    The writer seems to want to hear meaningless sound bites rather than the truth out of Hamilton – an odd position to take for a reporter.

    • oldnumero7 - Apr 13, 2011 at 12:07 PM

      Telling the truth and openly criticizing teammates and coaches are two different things. It might be “truthful” for Hamilton to rip his base coach if he’s mad at the decision he made to send him, but that doesn’t help the Rangers. In that case, the “meaningless sound bite” is a better move for team unity and leadership.

      I’m all for more candor in athlete interviews, because they’re typically boring and a waste of time. I’m not a fan of a player putting his own interests ahead of his team’s.

      • purnellmeagrejr - Apr 14, 2011 at 8:10 AM

        “We’re taking it one game at a time and though it’s early in the season I have a lot of respect for our opponent so I just try to do my bit and hustle every day.”
        How’s that?

  5. Detroit Michael - Apr 13, 2011 at 12:01 PM

    The coach made the right decision for Hamilton to try to tag up and score a run. The coach presumably didn’t tell Hamilton to land awkwardly on his shoulder.

    That said, the play was in front of Hamilton. He has latitude to disagree on a judgment call like that where both the coach and player can see the play unfold.

    • paperlions - Apr 13, 2011 at 12:49 PM

      Excactly….coaches are there to supplement player judgment and to be an extra pair of eyes for plays that are not in front of the runner or for situations where there may be multiple things to keep an eye on….base coaches are not a replacement for player judgment on plays in front of the player.

  6. smokehouse56 - Apr 13, 2011 at 12:03 PM

    If it had been the bottom of the 9th with two out would that had made a difference? If so, why?

  7. hep3 - Apr 13, 2011 at 12:07 PM

    Just because the alcholic quit drinking doesn’t mean they are not an a$$hole anymore. It is never their fault.

  8. jsarge99 - Apr 13, 2011 at 12:09 PM

    The ninth game of the season Is very important.

  9. bigbbfan - Apr 13, 2011 at 12:23 PM

    Craig, with your take on a head first slide into HOME PLATE you confirmed my suspicions. Have you ever actually seen a major league game? Players slide head first into to second and t hird base , but it is rare to see one slide head first into a catcher who is better protected with his equipment that the average football player.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 13, 2011 at 12:37 PM

      nobody slides headfirst INTO the catcher, but players often slide headfirst AROUND a catcher. I’ve seen lots of guys wiggle their arm around a catcher’s tag to slap home plate. They usually don’t belly flop onto the plate when the catcher tagged them 6 feet away through.

  10. halladaysbicepts - Apr 13, 2011 at 12:34 PM

    Maybe the reason Hamilton didn’t stay at third base is because the coach told him there would be an 8-ball awaiting him at home.

    • cur68 - Apr 13, 2011 at 12:40 PM

      Whoa. Now that’s the low hanging tasteless fruit right there…

    • paperlions - Apr 13, 2011 at 12:52 PM

      Is a bicept like a precept…only, they’re a matched pair?

    • tomemos - Apr 13, 2011 at 2:13 PM

      Phillies fan!

  11. rawstalk - Apr 13, 2011 at 1:11 PM

    Craig, I think you mean that “you don’t want players flouting the authority of the coaches” rather than shirking. Shirking refers to avoiding duties or responsibilities, perhaps out of laziness. Flouting refers to showing contempt for or ignoring authority:

  12. kfiz14 - Apr 13, 2011 at 1:47 PM

    If he still did coke he wouldn’t have even felt it.

  13. clydeserra - Apr 13, 2011 at 2:38 PM

    The play was not terrible. He could have stayed, either way it doesn’t matter.

    Talking out of class about your coach is bad enough, but Josh H. should remember that taking personal responsibility is the first step in any recovery.

  14. jeffa43 - Apr 13, 2011 at 4:51 PM

    Was it Dave Anderson that made him slide head first into home plate?

  15. spytdi - Apr 13, 2011 at 6:25 PM

    You’re just stirring up more bullshit. Hambone was wrong to drag the coach onto the issue and not to take the brunt of the criticism for his dumb slide, but does it really matter now? The damage is done. “That’s how baseball go”

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