Dan's Dugout: Bonehead Play Hurts Cleveland Run • Latino Sports

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Dan’s Dugout: Bonehead Play Hurts Cleveland Run

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If the Cleveland Indians don’t win the World Series, Bradley Zimmer could be the culprit.

headfirst slide ended the 2017 season for Bradley Zimmer of Cleveland

headfirst slide ended the 2017 season for Bradley Zimmer of Cleveland

The team’s rookie centerfielder ruined his season – and perhaps his team’s – by sliding into first base.

You read that right, folks.

There are two cardinal sins here:

First, sliding into first base is unnecessary, dangerous, and worse than simply over-running the bag, as all players are taught to do.

Second, sliding head-first at any base, at any time, is not only dangerous and dumb but a direct violation of coaching gospel.

For foolishess, Zimmer wound up with a broken hand that will keep out well beyond the end of the season and postseason.

His actions were as stupid as namesake (but not relative) Don Zimmer when he got into an on-field fight with star pitcher Pedro Martinez, more than 40 years his junior, not to mention a man of prime physical proportions at the height of his Hall of Fame career.

Dpn Zimmer fighting with Pedro Martinez at Fenway

Don Zimmer fighting with Pedro Martinez at Fenway

Okay, maybe Zimmer’s bat won’t be missed. Since reaching the majors in May, he was hitting just .241 with eight home runs and 39 runs batted in. But his speed (thrown out once in 19 attempts) and Gold Glove caliber defense can’t be replaced.

Zimmer suffered the injury Sunday during Cleveland’s 3-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles. The Indians entered play Tuesday one short of the American League record for consecutive victories.

With a 20-game winning streak, the Tribe tied the 2002 Oakland Athletics for the American League record and needed just one more to tie the 1935 Chicago Cubs for the uninterrupted National League mark and six more to tie the 1916 New York Giants, who sandwiched their streak around a tie that had to be replayed.

No team – not even the best ballclub in the big leagues – is that good. Nor is any team as bad as the Los Angeles Dodgers, who took 11 straight losses and a 1-16 record into Tuesday night’s game in San Francisco.

But little things, like injuries, become magnified in big situations. Zimmer’s play in center field has been exemplary, with more than enough game-saving catches to make multiple notches on his belt. With a lesser glove out there, the Indians could feel a difference.

A catch not made, a ball that falls in, a weaker throw. You name it.

Cleveland manager Terry Francona won't criticize a player

Cleveland manager Terry Francona won’t criticize a player

Manager Terry Francona, a miracle worker who somehow improved his team even after losing super-reliever Andrew Miller, won’t condemn the rookie outfielder – at least not publicly.

But privately, the play has to sit in his craw, not to mention a heart that forced the veteran pilot to miss 17 games following surgical repair.

Dan’s Diamond Dust:

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Cincinnati slugger Joey Votto has more walks than strikeouts over the last five seasons . . .

Cy Young Award contender Clayton Kershaw wears No. 22 as a tribute to boyhood hero Will Clark, a fellow Texan . . .

Clayton Kershaw's No. 22 honors Will Clark Credit: Frank Hyatt

Clayton Kershaw’s No. 22 honors Will Clark
Credit: Frank Hyatt

The 2018 Atlanta Braves schedule shows nine straight April games against the powerful Boston Red Sox and Washington Nationals . . .

Reluctance to play doubleheaders or makeup games forced a delay of more than three hours for the struggling Dodgers Monday when San Francisco suffered a rare electrical storm . . .

Suddenly, there’s a race in the National League Central, where the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers are making life tough for the defending World Champion Chicago Cubs . . .

Of all the games relocated because of Hurricane Irma, none was so strange as watching the Yankees as the “visiting” team in New York when they faced the Tampa Bay Rays at CitiField.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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