Earlier this week the baseball world was rocked by the news that former National League MVP Ryan Braun basically lied repeatedly regarding his use of performance enhancing drugs. Braun was suspended for the rest of the year and people started wondering whether he could ever regain the respect of the Milwaukee Brewers fans when he does return next season.
Normally this type of admission would carry through for the entire week in the media as the sports world anxiously awaits news of the next stars to fall. But a funny thing happened Wednesday night to help restore one’s faith in the fact that not all of the baseball players are selfish millionaires cheating the system for their own gain.
Of course most rationale people know that there are still many good players taking the field but sometimes it is good to be reminded of such things.
That reminder came in the form of the reaction to a gruesome injury at the New York Mets ballpark that had been the sight of the All Star Game earlier in the month.
While covering first base on a routine play that he had probably done hundreds of times in his career Atlanta Braves pitcher Tim Hudson put a little too much of his foot on first base leaving New York Mets left fielder Eric Young Jr little room to avoid contact with Hudson’s outstretched foot.
Young hit Hudson’s foot at full speed causing it to bend at an angle that feet just aren’t meant to bend. Watching the replay of the contact I knew right away that something bad had happened. While it was not necessarily a career ending injury, it was definitely a season ending injury based on what I saw on the replay.
This assessment of the severity of the injury was not based on extensive study in medical school, although I did take a few seminars in sports medicine, but was based on years of covering games where I had seen countless athletes get hurt.
That firsthand knowledge has allowed me to guess with pretty accurate results the type of injuries and even the sound that is made when the injury occurs. One never forgets the sound broken bones and torn tendons make once you have heard them. They are the type of sounds that are truly haunting.
So, right now you are wondering when I will get to the part about the good news and the sportsmanship element of Wednesday night instead of all of the gory details of what did in fact turn out to be a broken ankle that will require season ending surgery.
The element of sportsmanship comes in the reaction of Young after he realized that Hudson was on the ground in pain.
Young, who was ruled out on the play, went right to Hudson’s side and started consoling him. Even after the team trainers and paramedics arrived, a visibly shaken Young stayed by the side of the fallen Hudson.
Young, a professed Christian, could even be seen rubbing the cross on his chain and saying a prayer for Hudson while the medical staff attended to him.
Once Hudson was placed on the golf chart to make the trip around the warning track that no athlete wants to make Young came up to Hudson and shook his hand and said a few words to him before turning to head into the Mets dugout. On the way to the dugout Young could be seen wiping tears from his eyes.
Now, there was nothing dirty about the play and all of the people saying that Young should have done something to avoid contact with Hudson are deeply diluted. Had Young tried to change course it is quite possible that he would have been the one with an ankle injury instead of Hudson. It was just a freak accident that while rare does happen from time to time.
So instead of blaming Young for the injury people should focus more on his reaction. After realizing that a fellow competitor was down Young went to his side. That shows the close knit fraternity of baseball that regardless what team name is on the front of the jersey the good players still help each other out.
There is certainly a time to be competitive with one another but as Young showed there is also a time to be compassionate towards one another.
So while I feel bad that it took an injury of this nature to bring it out, and I certainly join others in wishing Tim Hudson a speedy recovery from his injury, it was nice to see the compassion shown by Eric Young Jr. to help restore my faith in the belief that not all of the players on the diamond are self-centered cheaters like Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez have shown themselves to be.
I still want to believe, like the younger version of me did, that ballplayers are by and large good people who can be admired for playing the game the right way but it seems the older I get the harder it is to tell which players are worthy of admiration and which ones should be pitied.
Eric Young Jr. showed he is a player to be admired and hopefully more players took notice and will respond in kind if they are ever placed in the same position.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a trip to the beach to prepare for.
Copyright 2013 R. Anderson