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Bryce Harper takes a leg to the head, collapses to the ground

Mar 31, 2014, 2:01 PM EDT

Last year Bryce Harper had two seasons: the amazing one before he ran into a wall and was knocked senseless and the not-so-amazing one afterwards. So seeing this in the second inning of the first game of the season is about as scary as it gets for the Nats:


This is the play on which it happened. Eric Young, Jr.’s shin just smacked him on the side of his head as Harper went in to break up the double play.

He got up and came back out to play the field in the bottom of the inning, but it’s definitely worth watching and worrying about him.

  1. stabonerichard - Mar 31, 2014 at 2:16 PM

    That was a nasty shot he took, but the helmet certainly should have cushioned the blow somewhat, and while the shin appeared to land pretty flush at least it wasn’t a knee which generally has more force behind it.

    The fact he stayed in the game is certainly encouraging.

    And how about the impact of his takeout slide… it seemed to cause the errant throw to 1B allowing Desmond to reach safely. Next batter (LaRoche) launched a bomb to RF, so Bryce’s slide gave the Nats an extra run. Hell, it likely gave them an extra 2 runs as the double play would have meant Gee pitching from the full windup rather than the stretch.

    Hope Bryce is all right and avoided a Morneau type of shot to the head. And hooray for Opening Day.

    • deep64blue - Mar 31, 2014 at 2:40 PM

      “The fact he stayed in the game is certainly encouraging.”

      Actually if I’m a Nats fan that’s the bit that worries me, have they learned nothing about concussions over the last few years?? Given his record and the fact it’s only Opening Day get him out of there and properly checked, better safe than sorry.

      • stabonerichard - Mar 31, 2014 at 2:48 PM

        Fair to question it. But I think it’s a safe assumption that team trainers are on high alert for head injuries at this point, and even more so when it involves a franchise cornerstone type of player. So that’s why I think it’s definitely encouraging it was determined he could continue to play.

      • deep64blue - Mar 31, 2014 at 3:11 PM

        You would think they would be alert but no way they ran the full concussion tests in that short period.

      • tedwmoore - Mar 31, 2014 at 3:15 PM

        This. Mauer stayed in after his concussion last season; it was not until the next day that he experienced the effects. Take the guy out, let him rest and then assess later.

      • stabonerichard - Mar 31, 2014 at 3:23 PM

        Like I said, fair to question it. Game #1 of a 162-game season, with your franchise position player taking a hard shot to the head. Couldn’t have complained if that was their decision.

        But maybe it was completely short-sighted/ignorant assessment by the trainers, and not overruled by Matty. Given the situation I can understand the call to error on the side of being overly cautious. I’m just optimistically calling it an encouraging sign they felt he was fine to stay in the game.

  2. mtr75 - Mar 31, 2014 at 2:18 PM

    Ban takeout slides at second base! No more can we allow the potential injury to these dainty athletes! We cannot have them decide for themselves whether to take a physical risk! The new rule says they should jog lightly. No slides! No takeout slides! It’s best for the game, everyone.


    • Old Gator - Mar 31, 2014 at 2:20 PM

      I keep trying to apply “dainty” to Big Papi and the Donkey….uh uh, won’t work…

      • historiophiliac - Mar 31, 2014 at 2:57 PM

        I’m sure Papi is insulted that some guy behind a computer thinks he’s slight and fragile.

    • poprox13 - Mar 31, 2014 at 2:24 PM

      If this was the NFL it would have already been done.

      • mtr75 - Mar 31, 2014 at 4:41 PM

        And MLB. See: new home plate contact rule.

    • stabonerichard - Mar 31, 2014 at 2:28 PM

      I get the sarcasm but not all takeout slides are equal. Nothing wrong with a clean, hard takeout where the runner is taking a natural course to the base but making life difficult for the middle infielder (as Bryce did today). But MLB often involves guys barreling into a fielder without making an attempt to stay on the bag, with the umps turning a blind eye. Simply put, it becomes an unnatural baseball play that you just don’t see in other professional leagues like Japan.

      The home plate collisions were similar, which eventually forced MLB’s hand. If umps simply enforce the rules it shouldn’t have to get to that point with takeout slides at 2B.

      • mtr75 - Mar 31, 2014 at 4:42 PM

        There was nothing wrong with a good, hard takeout slide home until this year, either.

      • stabonerichard - Mar 31, 2014 at 5:04 PM

        Heh. Good, hard takeout “slides” weren’t the problem with plays at the plate, and were not the part of the MLB rule book that wasn’t being properly enforced.

  3. schmedley69 - Mar 31, 2014 at 2:22 PM

    Buster Olney is going to start a campaign to ban the takeout slide now.

  4. thetoolsofignorance - Mar 31, 2014 at 2:23 PM

    That was a horrible blow to the head. Both players went to the ground in pain. I hope they are ok

  5. chc4 - Mar 31, 2014 at 2:35 PM

    Some players just can’t avoid weird injuries. Harper and Heyward are two of them.

  6. musketmaniac - Mar 31, 2014 at 2:39 PM daisy, todays athletes barely qualify as men

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 31, 2014 at 3:04 PM

      Yeah it was way better 30-40 years ago, when real men got concussions and kept playing. Only to get more concussions and then permanent brain damage and then blew their brains out. That’s what real men do…

      • mtr75 - Mar 31, 2014 at 4:44 PM

        You really are perpetually outraged, aren’t you? Interestingly enough, the Nats medical staff is disagrees with you that Bryce is on the verge of suicide.

  7. uwsptke - Mar 31, 2014 at 2:40 PM

    Does MLB have the same “concussion protocol” as the NFL? If a guy goes down on a football field like that, chances are he’s not coming back in the game. It’s not “tough” to trot back out there after sufferin a concussion (if he did). It’s stupid.

    • stabonerichard - Mar 31, 2014 at 3:05 PM

      Not the same protocol. Violent collisions occur much more frequently in football, and for a long time the attitude was that guys should bounce back and essentially pretend there were no ill effects from the absorbed blow, as a measure of manliness. (And if a guy failed to do so, it was questioned on the other end of the spectrum.)

      So it got to the point where head injuries were being ignored and/or mistreated. And eventually massive lawsuits in the range of billions of dollars. So the NFL bounced from one extreme to the farthest extreme on the other end. Given the environment, probably the best thing to do.

      But not necessarily the same dynamics involved in baseball. Sure head injuries happen, but a blanket approach of “get that guy out of the game!” might not be the appropriate response in all situations. Given the heightened alert to head injuries, the fact Bryce is a franchise cornerstone type of player, and that it’s game #1 out of 162, maybe the trainers made a completely ignorant decision to allow him to continue to play today. Maybe I’m giving them too much benefit of the doubt, but I’d trust their judgment better than ours.

      • uwsptke - Mar 31, 2014 at 3:46 PM

        To be fair, a concussion can happen on just about any head injury. Corey Koskie had to retire after his, and if you see the replay, his head never came in contact with any surface as he fell (but the snapping action was significant enough for this brain to move).

      • stabonerichard - Mar 31, 2014 at 3:54 PM

        Absolutely. It’s tough to assess, and so as I’ve mentioned numerous times in this article I completely understand the opinion that any shot to the head should be treated as potentially severe.

        I’m a Twins fan. Was terrible seeing Morneau’s career as a top flight hitter ended by a knee to the head while sliding into 2B, and Koskie’s earlier injury falling while chasing a foul ball if memory serves. Tough to know what’s going on with the brain when the coconut gets rattled.

        I’ll just mention one more time — since all trainers in pro sports are well aware of head injuries at this point, combined with the fact Bryce is a star caliber player and baseball’s marathon season makes game #1 much less significant than any other sport, I view the decision to keep him in as an encouraging sign that his helmet protected him when he got conked at 2B.

        But I also understand the call for trainers to automatically error on the side of caution–or Matt Williams to lift him even if the trainers say he’s good to go–since Bryce definitely did get hit in the head.

      • stabonerichard - Mar 31, 2014 at 3:56 PM

        In other words, the trainers might be ignorantly incompetent and rookie manager Matt Williams foolish for heeding their advice to keep Bryce in the game. But if we feel strong enough to argue the point, I’m siding with them over the voice of the internets.

    • mtr75 - Mar 31, 2014 at 4:47 PM

      MLB has had a concussion protocol since 2011.

  8. Jason @ IIATMS - Mar 31, 2014 at 3:20 PM

    If this was Puig, the commentariat (MSM version) would be decrying how he doesn’t play the game the right way.

    • natstowngreg - Mar 31, 2014 at 3:32 PM

      Agreed, though the comparison doesn’t work quite as well when the non-Puig player is Bryce Harper. Since Harper is, ya know, an obnoxious jerk.

      • marvinband9 - Mar 31, 2014 at 5:44 PM

        Look whos a jerk, natstowngreg

  9. chiadam - Mar 31, 2014 at 3:25 PM

    Nasty knee to the head. Why risk leaving him in the game? Take him out.

  10. flyinhighwithvick - Mar 31, 2014 at 3:31 PM

    Thoughts and Prayers…

    • miguelcairo - Mar 31, 2014 at 3:38 PM

      God’s not real.

      • stabonerichard - Mar 31, 2014 at 3:43 PM

        Well, that’s like your opinion and, plus, what if God was one of us sitting stranger style on a bus?

  11. zdravit - Mar 31, 2014 at 4:11 PM

    Is Young OK?

  12. jm91rs - Mar 31, 2014 at 4:46 PM

    Looks like I might be in the minority, but I hate the Take Out Slide as much as the “neighborhood play”, which of course is directly tied to it. You don’t need players getting hurt on something like this. Thankfully it looks like Harper will be ok, but how would this look if he were out for weeks with a concussion? Baseball doesn’t need that play.

  13. fleaman1381 - Mar 31, 2014 at 6:17 PM

    Upside – the star player on your team is willing to sacrifice himself for the good of the team by doing routine things most star players won’t.

    Downside – the star player on your team is willing to sacrifice himself for the good of the team by doing routine things most star players won’t.

    I know a lot of people don’t like him, but… I love watching him play. The kid plays hard and I like to see that. He plays hard and seems to have a lot of bad luck, I mean he got beaned or nearly beaned by his Dad in the Home Run Derby. I just hope he doesn’t hurt himself too seriously.

  14. mikhelb - Mar 31, 2014 at 6:54 PM

    I had not seen somebody get hit so hard since the old days of the Ultimate Warrior in the WWF.

    **cue a picture of Harper age 12 batting wearing “Ultimate Warrior” makeup**

    **cue PC advocates protesting that non american-natives should not use war paint**

    **cue me saying: i was born in kumeyaay territory and I aprove of… wait what? most Californians and Bajacalifornians (México) were born in Kumeyaay, cochimi, cucapah and native-american land**

    **I shouldn’t smoke this stuff anymore**

  15. Shinnbone - Mar 31, 2014 at 7:05 PM

    It looks like she’ll be ok….

    • historiophiliac - Apr 1, 2014 at 12:32 AM


  16. taosravenfan - Mar 31, 2014 at 8:54 PM


    • miguelcairo - Mar 31, 2014 at 10:54 PM

      Sure. Why not

  17. campcouch - Mar 31, 2014 at 9:16 PM


  18. sumkat - Apr 1, 2014 at 1:25 AM

    I hope he’s ok. Even as a Phils fan, I just want the Nats to play awful, i don’t want to see anyone get hurt.

    That being said, it wasn’t THAT bad of a shot. If there is anything serious, MLB has to take a look at their helmets, because that’s not enough protection if a hit like that can cause serious damage

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