A Dangerous Game

Every time hitters step into the box, they are taking a huge risk. It is part of their job and the way they make their money but in a day and age where pitchers are throwing 100 mph moving fastballs, the danger is apparent every time a pitch is thrown to the plate. Often, I hear people say how baseball is a safe game where nothing dangerous happens and everyone is a weakling. “Oh, it’s nothing like football and hockey, where real injuries can happen.” I’d like to ask a few NFL and NHL stars if they want to get tagged in the face by an 88 mph fastball. This wouldn’t be a glancing blow. I am talking about a direct shot to the face. This is what happened to Miami Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton Thursday night. In the 5th inning with two on and an 0-1 count, Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Mike Fiers threw a fastball up and in, striking Stanton on the cheek.

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Stanton was taken away to the hospital for X-Rays and a CT scan. This morning, it has been revealed that Stanton suffered multiple facial fractures and possibly dental damage in addition to the laceration on his face. I’ve watched the video over and over again, and will admit this. Fiers didn’t do this on purpose. Pitcher don’t aim to hit batters in the face with pitches. They don’t aim to end careers, derail lives or intercede a possibly Hall of Fame career. Stanton is one of the great young players in this game. Marlins President David Samson put it best. Stanton is a “No Food or Bathroom Hitter. You don’t leave your seat.” If there is one player that makes this game action packed and easily fun to watch, it’s Stanton. Every time he steps to the plate, he could launch a baseball into outer space. Fiers didn’t want to take that away from the game. He wouldn’t do that to any hitter. Sure, he hit Reed Johnson with his next pitch, but that was nerves. After the game, Fiers was sad and worried about Stanton. We all are.

Why feel so sad for a slugger who doesn’t play for the Cardinals? If you care about baseball and this league, you want Giancarlo to be alright. He’s a required daily dose of baseball entertainment. I am a big fan of the 24 year old but can also relate to a Marlins fan. Sure, there aren’t a lot of fans down there(even for a team that has won 2 World Series in the past 17 years) but for the ones who do feel passionate about the Marlins, I feel for them. Imagine Cardinals fans if Albert Pujols was decked by a pitch to his cheek bone in 2005. How bad and sad would Cards fans feel? First, you would think about the rest of the season. Then, you would think about the future. Most importantly, you would worry about the young man’s life and future.

Stanton wasn’t just playing great baseball this year. He was carrying a less than stellar Marlins team towards a potential Wild Card game. With 37 home runs and 105 RBI to go with a .950 OPS(slugging + on base percentage) this year, Stanton was a front line MVP candidate. In only 634 games, Stanton had 154 home runs. The possibilities for this kid are endless and now, they all lie in doubt. One may attack me for making a big deal about Stanton getting hurt and his star status changing the situation and severity. That isn’t entirely true. This is horrible when it happens to any batter. However, the fact that it is one of the games biggest stars does affect a game that needs every bit of flash and flavor that it can reach. If that makes me insensitive or cruel, I will wear that mantle today.

Stanton is probably lying in a hospital bed in Milwaukee right now with his future hanging on a chart. More than likely, he is asleep. A few rounds of surgery await him. He was hit flush in the cheek bone area. There are lots of small bones that could have been broken. Bones that aren’t far from the coveted orbital bone that wraps around the eye socket. The rest of his body isn’t affected and he will be able to walk and move around soon. Right now, it’s all about the effect the hit by pitch had on his vision going forward and any internal damage. It’s an ugly situation and one any fan of the game or person with blood flowing through their veins can hope has a positive outcome.

Stanton’s injury is a painful reminder of how baseball can be just as dangerous as any other sport. In one instance, a player’s life can change. It’s the same for a pitcher throwing a ball to the plate hoping to not have it smoked off his own face. Hitters and pitchers facing off is the basis of the action and where this great game begins. It is also where the game can stop for a few unfortunate players.

Get well, Giancarlo. Baseball needs you back soon. When you are hitting baseballs 500 feet into the cold dark night, something is right in the world.

Thanks for reading and have a good weekend,

@buffa82

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