April 4, 2006

AND HE WAS SAFE:

Taking a Different Kind of Dive (Thomas Boswell, April 4, 2006, Washington Post)

As Alfonso Soriano was about to slide into home plate, he suddenly saw the bat at the last instant. By accident, or perhaps as an emblem of his luck since becoming a National, the large black stick lay in exactly the worst place a bat can be: six feet from home plate and stretched across the foul line as though the devil had placed it as an Opening Day booby trap.

With a normal feet-first slide, Soriano might break his ankle. With a headfirst dive into the plate, the menacing wood might catch him in the ribs. So Soriano did exactly what he has done with unusual grace since March 22, the day he moved to left field against his desires but in his team's best interests. The $10 million man, the kind of star who usually gets the deference, adjusted on the fly the best he could, at his own risk but greatly to his credit.

Few players are gifted, limber and brave enough to execute the dive Soriano improvised. In less than a second, he showed why the Nationals wanted him so badly and risked so much embarrassment to trade for him and why they still hope that, somehow, their relations can be mended. Athletes who average 35 home runs a season, as Soriano has the past four years, almost never embody the game's other skills of speed, agility and, when a game is at stake, recklessness, as Soriano always has. Fine teams need such players at their center. The Nats have one now, though for how long?

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 4, 2006 2:20 PM
Comments

Meanwhile, given the manic-depressive nature of New York tabloid sports columnists, they're already talking about printing up World Series tickets for the Mets, following Monday's win over the Nats (if they lose their next game or two, the same folks will want Omar Minaya tied to the tracks of the Flushing line outside the stadium for saddling New York with this horrid team of Latinos).

Posted by: John at April 4, 2006 3:21 PM

The mind boggles at the bravery, skill and determination when faced with 2 lbs plus of lumber in his way! Almost singlehandedly redeems baseball players' reputations as sissy athletes who sit out games because their eyelids wouldn't open, their hair hurt or they strained their backs closing a clothes dryer.

Posted by: Rick T. at April 4, 2006 3:50 PM

Maybe he'll be able to improve on that sterling .309 obp from last year.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at April 4, 2006 4:09 PM

Or his .971 fielding percentage at second base. They've stuck him in left this year but he can't play that either.

Posted by: joe shropshire at April 4, 2006 9:11 PM
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