The Houston Astros have instantly become my second least-favorite baseball team (behind the Yankees), now that they have instituted a policy of benching minor league players who dive headfirst into first or home.
I have a few comments:
- Greg Langbehn is an idiot. The reason sprinters don't dive headfirst across the finish line is not because it's slower, it's because they're running on a track. Idiot.
Running through the bag is always faster than diving? Well, have you ever noticed that everybody slows up just a bit running to first so that they don't miss the bag?
- Why would you discourage headfirst dives into first and home? If anything, they should be discouraged at second and third, because in those cases you need to stop at the bag. In addition, you want to slide feet-first into second if the 2B or SS is trying to turn a double play.
Robbie Alomar, a skilled practitioner of the headfirst dive into first, was once asked to do a commercial that would involve him diving headfirst into second. He insisted that the commercial be edited to have him sliding feetfirst.
- Granted, I don't play as often as major league players, but I've dove headfirst at an object in numerous situations (usually softball or ultimate frisbee) and only gotten injured once. That was when I cut my hand open on a sharp rock while playing on possibly the worst fields ever. Needless to say, that's not usually a problem in a professionally groomed baseball stadium. And I'm pretty sure that I run faster than 90% of major league baseball players.
Diving headfirst at a base is effective and isn't dangerous if you do it right. Run low to the ground. Keep running until you're close enough that you can just hit the bag with your hand. (Do not dive too early -- otherwise you'll hit the dirt in front of the bag, which will most certainly slow you down.) Tag the outside of the bag so that the first baseman or catcher doesn't step on you. And for God's sake roll over on the ground so that your hand doesn't absorb the brunt of the impact.
See, Jesus would dive headfirst into home to score the winning run in the bottom of the 10th.