Edwin Díaz Badly Hurt After World Baseball Classic Celebration Goes Wrong
The highest-paid relief pitcher in MLB history may be finished for 2023, a case made more frustrating because we’ve seen it before
I’m not only upset because Edwin Díaz, the highest-paid relief pitcher of all time, looks destined to sit out the 2023 season after suffering what appears to be a significant leg injury during a World Baseball Classic post-game celebration. It’s not just because I’m a diehard fan of the New York Mets, the MLB club Díaz plays for, either. I’m beside myself because this type of thing has happened before…on multiple occasions. I can recall the players’ names instantly from memory. I’m also angry because anybody who’s seen baseball players jump up and down on top of each other, like the Puerto Rican National Team did last night, must’ve thought this was an inevitable outcome some day. It couldn’t have just been me.
Let’s go back to 2008 when the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series. First off, if there’s any team that deserves to absolutely lose their minds, it’s the squad that just won the World Series. I’ll grant that. Brad Lidge, the Phillies’ closer, who’d converted every single one of his saves that season — regular and post — threw the final strike against the Tampa Bay Rays. Fittingly, he dropped down to his knees on the mound in a fit of joy. Then, when his teammates, people weighing hundreds of pounds of hard muscle each, jumped onto him to join in the celebration, they probably hurt the man who, at least statistically that year, was the finest relief pitcher in MLB. I write “probably” because Lidge has denied — increasingly softly, though — claims he was hurt during the fracas. What happened to his career next, though, is undeniable.
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“In the coming year, Lidge took a series of cortisone shots [and went] under the knife for surgeries and had multiple stints on the disabled list for a combination of elbow and knee problems,” wrote CBS News in 2012 when Lidge retired. “Lidge went from a 1.95 ERA in 72 games in 2008 to a 7.21 ERA in 67 games in 2009. He also saw his work load drop steadily in his next 3 years with the Phillies, going from 69.1 IP in 2008 to 58.2 IP in 2009, to 45.2 IP in 2010 and finally just 19.1 IP in 2011.”
If that doesn’t convince you that the way baseball players carry on after wins is an injury waiting to happen — and maybe it shouldn’t given Lidge’s remarks, though video of the incident shows him falling awkwardly to the ground — consider the case of Kendrys Morales.
Fairly early in the 2010 season, Morales, then of the Los Angeles Angels, hit a walk-off grand slam against division rivals the Seattle Mariners. As he jogged into home plate, a hard flat surface, he jumped while wearing — what else? — baseball cleats. If you’re not familiar with this episode, you can probably see where this is going. Morales slipped on the plate; his teammates mobbed him and Morales emerged hurt with what turned out to be a broken ankle. Not only did he miss the rest of that MLB season, but all of the next one, too.
You might still be thinking that what happened to Díaz last night was an unfortunate accident, resulting from a different set of circumstances compared to the Lidge and Morales scenarios. Díaz was upright, not down on his knees, and when he jumped he didn’t do so onto a hard, flat surface like a home plate. You might also be saying to yourself, “After winning games, ballplayers gather together and jump up and down on the field all the time and this never happened before.”
And I get that baseball games on the professional level — even early regular-season ones and, I guess, even World Baseball Classic ones that don’t count toward the MLB standings at all — are played with an intensity I’ll never know, that when a victory is secured it must be so exhilarating that its participants can’t help but release a bomb of pent-up emotion.
But there’s an old saying: if you play with fire, you get burned.
With or without the Lidge or Morales injury histories, the fact that it still never dawned on ballplayers — who, again, are monsters of human beings, which is why they’re world-class athletes — that jumping up and down like that on top of each other would lead to this kind of injury at some point is mind-boggling. I don’t know what post-game celebrations should look like, but for the love of the game itself, they have to change.
This particular injury especially hurts, and not just because the Mets invested so much in Díaz this past offseason, or because his MLB club is all-systems-go into a World Series push this year. Remember: Last summer, it was Díaz’s introduction song that caught not just the baseball world, but all of sports by storm, leading to multiple adoptees of the tune elsewhere and vaulting the song, “Narco,” to the top of the Spotify charts.
While we have to await word on the extent of Díaz’s injury — he’s expected to undergo tests today — the fact that he couldn’t even walk off the field without others lifting him off the ground means he’s going to miss a lot of time. Anyone familiar with sports injuries that look like that can make an educated guess that it’s a knee ligament tear or maybe an Achilles rupture, both of which would cost him all of 2023.
If that’s the case, no more Díaz intros — for anybody, not just Mets fans — and no more mound dominance, this year or maybe ever again.
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