Players Who Dive Into Bases Risk Serious Injuries

All-Star second baseman Ozzie Albies missed the playoffs last year after fracturing a pinky on a head-first slide.Photo byDavid from Washington, DC, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

By Dan Schlossberg

With bigger bases, shorter distances between them, fewer pick-offs, and no infielders playing short right field, the stage is set for more stolen bases. Many more.

But it is also set for more injuries — some of them severe.

Although major-league managers insist they show players the proper, feet-first way to slide, far too many of the athletes blatantly ignore that advice.

They think they are showing off to the fans when they take flying leaps into the bases, sometimes even diving headlong into first!

Baseball history is filled with examples of how stupid that is.

Just last year, Atlanta lost second baseman Ozzie Albies when he broke his pinky on a head-first slide into second base. Compounding the felony, it happened on his second day back from a leg injury. Had Albies reached the postseason, the Braves might have been able to defend their 2021 world championship. Instead, the upstart Phillies knocked them out in the Division Series.

Albies, who hails from Curacao, is a smart ballplayer and a smart guy. After all, he speaks four languages fluently. But he doesn’t seem to remember what happened to his own team in the same situation just a few short years earlier.

Marcell Ozuna, trying to steal third base in Boston, instead slid hands-first into the hefty spikes of Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers. The result was two fractured fingers, a lengthy stay on the injured list, and a subsequent domestic dispute — perhaps triggered out of frustration — that nearly cost him his career.

Another sliding mishap, years earlier, involved National League Rookie of the Year Rafael Furcal. He slid hands-first into second, broke his wrist, and missed two months of the season.

There are countless other examples.

But there’s also a way to stop the foolishness.

Managers need to mandate fines for any and all players who dive for bases rather than slide into them. For one thing, feet-first slides are faster. But for another, they’re safer.

A $100 fine might not mean much for a player who makes millions but it’s the message that means the most. Enough embarrassment can cause anyone to correct the errors of their ways. And a clubhouse kangaroo court can work wonders.

At least it did in the Good Old Days of the game.

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ is the author of 40 baseball books, including the brand-new Baseball’s Memorable Misses. He’s now on a book tour of libraries, civic clubs, and religious organizations. Email

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