Moments after the news broke Wednesday about Josh Hamilton, an Angels fan I know sent me a text.
"Are the Halos cursed?" he asked.
No, they are not. Not in this case.
Slide headfirst into first base, and you’re asking for trouble. Slide headfirst into first, and a complete tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in your left thumb is not exactly a shocking result.
Former major leaguer Harold Reynolds of the MLB Network told me the other day that sliding into first is acceptable only when a player is trying to avoid a tag.
FOX Sports 1’s Frank Thomas went even further Wednesday, tweeting, "MLB players!! Please no more head first slides into first base!"
That goes for Hamilton. It goes for the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig, who strained a ligament in his left thumb sliding into first last Saturday. It goes for every major leaguer, and don’t tell me that it’s faster sliding into first — it is not.
"Sometimes, your instincts more than anything take over — the fun of the game," Hamilton told reporters Tuesday night, after his costly slide in the Angels’ 5-3 loss to the Mariners.
"I shouldn’t have done it, probably, but I’m not going to say I’m not going to do it again, because I’d be lying."
As always, Hamilton’s honesty is refreshing. But he should have learned the dangers of sliding headfirst when he suffered a right shoulder fracture sliding into home in 2011.
Hamilton, 32, returned from that injury faster than expected, missing about five weeks instead of the projected six to eight. Maybe he will recover rapidly this time as well, particularly if he does not require surgery. He is to be re-examined Friday to see if surgery is needed.
Still, this news is a blow to the Angels, who were only 3-5 despite Hamilton batting .444 with a 1.286 OPS in 33 plate appearances. The Angels’ pitching again appears suspect; they will need to rely on their offense to compensate. And now Hamilton likely will be replaced by a platoon of Collin Cowgill and J.B. Shuck.
A curse? Hardly. More like a self-inflicted wound.