Mariners Analysis

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The story of Chris and Dave...

Careful Jamal, you might blow out his knee!

One of the more interesting stories for M's fans this spring is watching Chris Snelling. For those of you who just started following the Mariners, Snelling is a young outfielder from Australia who came up through the minors and actually looked like he might be the rare position player who developed in the M's system. However, the guy gets hurt all the time and is never healthy, so we simply don't know what to expect this year.

The most publicized injury for Snelling occurred when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in June '02 while sprinting around third base in a game against Oakland. As he rounded third, he tried to reverse his direction after coach Dave Myers threw up the stop sign.

Many fans blame Myers for the injury. I hear all the time references to Meyers "owing" Snelling something for blowing out his knee.

Sorry, but blaming Myers is simply absurd. It's time to put an end to the Chris and Dave references. If you want to talk about Snelling's knee injuries, and wrist injuries, and hand injuries and ... go ahead. But don't blame the coaches.

Instead, chalk that injury up to a rookie mistake.

If I go careening down a hill on a skateboard and suddenly jump off, I'm almost certainly going to get hurt. In fact, if I somehow managed to limp away with nothing more than maybe a rip in my favorite jeans, I'd say I was pretty lucky.

If you are a major league player, or really any baseball player, there are certain things you do, and certain things you do not do.

One of the things you don't do is run full speed, glance up at the last second at a coach who may or may not be telling me to go home, and then attempt to slam on the brakes ala Fred Flintstone or Wiley Coyote.

You go slamming on the brakes like that, bad things happen. Try running down a hill at full speed and then try to slow down suddenly. My knees start hurting just thinking about it.

In the case of Chris Snelling in Oakland, I watched the game on TV and saw basically the equivalent. Running towards third at top speed, Chris had his head down the whole time. Only after rounding the bag did he notice Meyers standing with the "Hold" sign with both hands up in the air. Chris, being the good rookie that he is, tried an immediate 100%-thrust reversal back to the bag, his knee folding like a For-Sale sign in Ellensburg.

As a baseball player you make a decision on when to run home the moment the ball leaves the bat, OR you choose to let the coach make the decision. If you choose to rely on the coach, you keep him in your vision as you approach the bag. You already know before your foot hits the bag whether you are staying or sprinting home.

You don't do what Chris did- hit the bag at full speed and then glance up at the coach and try to make a split second decision. He tried it and tore out his knee. End of story.

So I hope Chris has a healthy, productive '05 season, and I hope he learns to run the basepaths.

And fans need to quit blaming Myers for ruining his knee.