By now, you have certainly heard about the patellar tendon injury suffered by Mets closer Edwin Diaz while celebrating Puerto Rico’s World Baseball Classic win over the Dominican Republic.
You might not, however, have seen this reaction to it:
Wouldn't have happened in a celebration of a meaningless exhibition game on March 15 in which his MLB team was paying his salary to go play for an artificial "national" team. The Mets underwrote this disaster. The WBC must be discontinued.— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) March 16, 2023
That’s the dumbest Twitter take of the year and it’s only March.
Freak injuries can happen anywhere at any time in baseball. An injury in a “meaningless exhibition game”? Hey, Keith! What about this one?
Gavin Lux has been carted off the field after sustaining an injury running into third base. pic.twitter.com/Glh5Z7jFEh— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) February 27, 2023
Should the Dodgers not have played Gavin Lux in that “meaningless exhibition game”?
Let’s stipulate right here that the World Baseball Classic doesn’t consist of “meaningless exhibition games.” It’s played for national pride, and many players take playing for their countries quite seriously. It’s a great way to promote baseball around the world — check this out:
WOW. JUST WOW. HISTORIC. SPECIAL. THE BIGGEST WIN IN BRITISH BASEBALL HISTORY. I AM SO EMOTIONAL. THIS COULD BE MASSIVE FOR THE SPORT HERE. BASEBALL ❤️❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/KGylsjSbOn— LA Angels UK (@LAAngelsUK) March 13, 2023
You don’t think that means something? That British baseball fans weren’t amazingly excited for their first-ever WBC win? That win helped them automatically qualify for the next WBC in 2026, and let’s hope by then they have better uniforms:
Unfortunate scene: The "T" has fallen off of the jersey of Great Britain pitcher Ian Gibaut. pic.twitter.com/mnlfHh8HkN— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) March 13, 2023
Anyway, back to freak injuries: They can happen literally at any time. Houston’s Lance McCullers had to push back an ALCS start because he was hit in the arm by a champagne bottle during a celebration. Aroldis Chapman missed time because he had an infection from a tattoo. Archie Bradley fractured his right arm jumping over the dugout railing during a victory celebration. And those are just a few from 2022! (The Cubs’ Ryan Dempster broke his big toe in a similar dugout railing jump in 2009.) Here are quite a few more similar weird injuries.
Speaking of celebrations, did you know there’s a team that actually once practiced them during Spring Training?
— Deesha (@DeeshaThosar) March 10, 2021
Mets are celebrating catching the final out of Game 7 World Series. You’ll want the sound all the way up for this one. pic.twitter.com/0GGYrHLBsU
Oh, yes. That’s the Mets, the same team that’s going to be without Edwin Diaz probably for the entire 2023 season due to his injury.
The point is, they happen. Want a few more? Remember these Cubs freak injuries? In 2018, Brandon Morrow hurt his back putting his pants on. (He came back from that, but wound up missing half that season with a pitching-related injury.) Back in 2007, Kerry Wood injured himself when he slipped getting out of his hot tub. And who can forget Sammy Sosa throwing his back out sneezing? In 2020, José Quintana cut his finger and needed stitches while making a sandwich. Current Cub Cody Bellinger had two seasons wrecked when he suffered a shoulder injury celebrating a home run during the 2020 postseason. Fortunately, Bellinger is healthy now and hopefully, he’ll have a comeback year for the 2023 Cubs.
I could go on, and on, and on, but you get the point here. Yes, it’s a tough break for the Mets that they have lost their closer for the season, but they do have a reasonable replacement on their roster, former Cub David Robertson, who has 157 career saves.
None of this happened because of the World Baseball Classic. It could have happened during a walkoff win for the Mets in April. Or during... a Cubs Spring Training game in 2021 [VIDEO].
The WBC, the first tournament since 2017 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been electric. The games have been well-attended and well-watched. South Korea versus Japan had more than 62 million worldwide viewers. The most-watched World Series game ever in the U.S. drew 54 million U.S. viewers – in 1980. Try to watch a spring game with a fraction of the fervor as Wednesday’s Puerto Rico-Dominican Republic matchup. You can’t. The tournament has shown a rarely-seen side of some of the game’s best players. It’s proof that, at the heart of it all, love of the game and pride in your country matters.
The sport is trying to grow, to get more popular and to showcase its stars on a global stage. Perhaps it will inspire the next Edwin Díaz, Francisco Lindor or Shohei Ohtani to pick up a glove. To say the WBC should be disbanded or MLB players should be barred from playing in it is shortsighted. And blaming the tournament for Díaz’s injury is too.
She’s absolutely correct. The WBC is good for baseball, and the injury to Diaz is simply a freak occurrence that could have happened anywhere — just like all the others I’ve cited in this article.