On Sunday afternoon Bryce Harper hit a ball into the right field corner. He rounded second, and turned to third. As he approached third, Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang faked a tag. Harper slid and left the game with a thumb injury. In reality, he was in no danger of being thrown out. The throw was offline and the slide was unnecessary.
Now people are blaming Kang for the injury. The Nationals announcer, F.P. Santangelo, quickly accused Kang of breaking one of baseball’s unwritten rules, stating that you don’t fake tags in the MLB.
Yet, any baseball fan, knows that that is in fact a ridiculous statement. Infielders are constantly faking things in an effort to impact runners. (Also if anyone was curious there is actually a subreddit devoted to some of the ridiculous things that Santagelo says. It can be found here.) But here’s some other players faking things:
You’ll notice baseball’s golden boy Derek Jeter in that video. As well as the Nationals own Daniel Murphy. At no point was anyone in that video criticized for faking out another player. They were all considered heads up baseball plays.
So I don’t think it’s fair for Santagelo to come after Kang claiming that it was a dirty play. It’s nothing out of the ordinary. And it certainly didn’t warrant the National’s A.J. Cole throwing behind Kang’s head.
In reality the injury was an accident. But it also could have been avoided even with the fake tag. If Harper had just picked up the third base coach it could have been avoided. At no point did he signal for him to slide. In fact, he was letting him know that the throw was offline.
It’s time we stop vilifying players for stuff that happens everyday just because someone gets hurt. Yes, it sucks for baseball if Harper is hurt for an extended period of time. Regardless of his poor season he’s still one of baseball’s most exciting talents, and we all want to see him in the postseason. But to say this is Kang’s fault for a fake tag, is ridiculous and just wrong. He doesn’t deserve any hate for what he did. He was just playing the game, the way that everyone else does.