Last night in Baltimore, in just the second game of the season, Russell Martin — i.e. all that stands between us and a whole lot more ca. 2017 Jarrod Saltalamacchia than anyone’s worst enemy ought to be subjected to — took a foul ball off his throwing hand.
It turns out he was fine:
(Griff’s morning, on the other hand, may not have been quite as fine):
As opposed to myself who is having ice right now covered in some sort of delicious liquid that make my hand feel good #innerharbor— Richard Griffin (@RGriffinStar) April 6, 2017
It’s obviously always a heart-in-throat moment when a vital player takes one off the hand like that, so the fact that he didn’t even need to ice it was great news! But it did get me thinking about some of the reactions I saw at the time, and how incongruous they were to what ended up being the severity of the incident.
I’m not saying people shouldn’t have been worried, but it felt like they were worried. Someone even referenced the season-over-before-it-started moment of José Reyes blowing up his ankle in Kansas City to me!
I… uh… I wonder what might have made folks so terrified about an incident that turned out so benign…
BUCK MARTINEZ [ominously]: Oh no.
PAT TABLER: Oh no. Looks like Russell got one on the meat hand.
BUCK: Foul tip, and the umpire gives him a baseball. That’s kind of a courtesy by the umpires. Give the catcher a chance to get the feeling back in his meat hand, and you’re right, it got him flush.
PAT: Yeah, you never want to see that. From a catcher. Foul tip, got him right on the fingers. The first thing you think about — right? — when you see that, you think broken finger.
BUCK: Looked like it hit his ring finger and pinkie. Obviously can’t tell from up here, but he’s hurtin’. And, you know what, you just kind of keep your hand out of harm’s way, but when you go catch the ball it instinctively comes up near your glove and you expose that bare hand to those foul tips.
PAT: John Gibbons knows all about that, doesn’t he? Ex-catcher.
BUCK: He’s concerned, for sure. The good thing is, it doesn’t look as though there’s any blood involved. Sometimes you’ll split your fingers apart and get some lacerations on your hand. [Closeup of Martin working with trainers]. That test right there is just to see how much strength he has in his hand. Obviously you’d think that if there was any kind of significant fracture or anything he wouldn’t have much strength. [skeptically] Russell says he’s OK. But this is a reminder of the wear and tear catchers take over the course of the season. Watch that right hand — boy it caught him flush on the fingers.
PAT: Man, he is one tough dude, isn’t he? To get back there.
It’s not like a broadcaster in a situation like this has an easy job. Quite the opposite, I’d think. And Buck and Pat weren’t even wrong for pointing out that one’s mind does go straight to “broken finger” and that it is good that Martin’s fingers hadn’t been blown apart like a dove taking a Randy Johnson fastball to the ribs. So maybe I’m being too picky by bringing this up. It’s just… do we want the broadcast to stoke our darkest fears when a potential injury takes place?
Perhaps Buck and Pat were just being real here, talking like you or I would if we were watching the game with our friends. It wouldn’t surprise me if people enjoyed the frankness with which they discussed the aftermath of the incident, and maybe that’s completely fine as long as they stop short of a diagnosis. Plus, to Buck and Pat’s credit they avoided talking about calling up Juan Grateror, or what Jarrod Saltalamacchia would look like if the Jays needed him to start for an extended period, or any of those absolutely terrifying potentialities. There was some restraint here — though not in the form of not feeling the need to fill every goddamned second of airtime with words, which is a separate issue — but was there enough?
Maybe there was! I honestly can’t get overly worked up about it, so maybe it was fine and this whole post is pointless. The moment would have been plenty scary to fans watching with the audio off, I’m sure. But perhaps that’s exactly it: No need to underline it, guys! No need to get right up to the edge of handing a match to the gasoline-and-piss-soaked fans so absolutely fucking ready to declare the season over at a moment’s notice. Y’know?
I don’t know. Glad Russell’s OK though!!!