Celebration injuries have happened before, of course. I recall Kansas City's
And perhaps the most famous celebration injury involved NFL kicker
Anyway, there have been more injuries during celebrations than you might expect. Then, maybe that's because of our biases. Maybe we should expect it.
If you had to guess, what would you say created more injuries: Lawn mowers or Tableware? Hammers or televisions? Saws or skateboards? Of course, you already know the answer because, otherwise, I would not have asked. It's the second choice in each of those scenarios.*
All of this is, of course, is built around what is almost certainly the saddest celebration injury I have ever seen -- the celebration injury of Angels' first baseman
He was not hitting quite as well this year -- his doubles are down -- but well enough considering we're only in May. And on Saturday, bottom of the 10th inning, with the bases loaded and one out in a 1-1 game against Seattle, he hit a high fly ball that sailed over the center field wall, into the rocks, a grand slam. More than that. A walk-off grand slam. One of baseball's big thrills. He ran around the bases happily, but certainly not with any undue flair. I say this because in Ben's piece, there's a story of Morales' first minor-league home run -- apparently he just stood there and watched it, putting on a show because, Morales said, that's what was expected in Cuba. Morales' game has changed since then. He ran around the bases without too much emotion, flipped off his helmet as he approached the plate, and jumped toward home plate and his waiting teammates.
Here is the best
It appears that Morales' leg broke the instant he hit home plate. On the video you can see that his teammates stop celebrating IMMEDIATELY... one of the more haunting images is how, about five seconds after he hits home plate, players start to walk away shaking their heads. Few things hit the gut harder than a sudden, precipitous, roller-coaster-drop from elation to agony.
It wasn't that long before the evil tweets and gag comments began pouring in: Inevitable, of course. The first walk-off homer where the guy couldn't walk off; call it a limp-off home run, a carry-off, and so on and so on and so on.
Black humor is a big part of just about anything we do, of course, but I think this speaks to something else: It seems to me that we are simply geared to not take seriously injuries that do not come in the rage of war, in the line of duty, in the heart of a game. We can understand someone getting hurt crashing into home plate, but there seems something insubstantial -- something even offensive -- about a guy getting hurt celebrating a home run. This is so true that, in a fit of depression, Angels manager
But is that the lesson here? I think we would all agree that Morales was doing something pretty safe. He was doing what ballplayers who hit walk-off home runs do. I think most people would agree that this was just a case of horrible luck, that a well-trained athlete ought to be able to jump on home plate and be surrounded by teammates without worrying about breaking a leg. Maybe you don't like the walk-off celebration, maybe you think it is pointless. But it's not exactly reckless. There are no flying knives.
I remember a few years ago, I was walking out of our house during an ice storm and I slipped on the ice on the porch and fell backward -- like something out of the
But injuries are injuries, whether they be by spoon or saw. Injuries are bad luck and a lot of pain, regardless of the circumstances. You can't put your life in bubble wrap. Teams can ask and even demand that athletes not take undue risk -- riding motorcycles, summer recreation basketball, whatever -- but nobody can ask athletes to simply stop living. If they want to stop the walk-off celebrations because they're crass, fine. But if they're stopping them because of Morales' fluke injury, well, something about that seems wrong. We simply cannot control the world, and it's silly and even a bit arrogant to think that we can. Morales will certainly miss months and a couple of the local writers have already suggested that he could miss the season. It seems to me an awful thing, like all serious sports injuries... and no less.