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Yadier Molina Injured: Part of the Game or Cheap Shot?

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So a bad thing happened last night. No, not the Cards losing to the Pittsburgh Pirates 9-0. I mean, don't get me wrong; that was definitely a bad thing. The Cardinals coming out and laying such a magnificent egg in such a big game sucked in a big way, and the fact James McDonald apparently just owns this team is more than a little bit disconcerting. 

But, giant blowout and miserable to watch or not, it was just one game. Counts the same in the standings as any other game. The bad thing I'm referring to is the thing that could have much more lasting repercussions, as in it could very well affect how the rest of the season plays out for the Redbirds. 

Yadier Molina was injured in a collision at home plate with the Pirates' Josh Harrison, who was trying to score the game's second run. Yadi managed to hold on to the ball, recording the out, but he had to be helped off the field afterward. Concussion tests and x-rays all apparently came back negative, which is unbelievably good news, but the fact is Molina may still have to miss a fair amount of time. 

Which would, of course, be very bad for the Cardinals. And oh yeah, pretty good for the Pirates. Funny how that works, huh? 

Before we go any further, here's the video. Check it out. Ouch, right? 

I'm not going to say Josh Harrison went after Yadier Molina on purpose, trying to hurt him. I'm also not going to not say that. Sure, taking out the best player of the team you're trying to chase down in the wild-card race seems like the sort of thing some second-rate team desperate to make the playoffs might be tempted to do, but hey, modern players would never go in for something like that, right?

After the game Harrison fell back on the usual line we hear in cases like this: "We play the game hard." Which is generally code for, "Yeah, I totally tried to take that guy out/plunk him with the pitch/sweep the leg, Johnny." I expected him to break out something about playing the game the Right Way, also. 

But you know, I have a hard time swallowing this particular line of excuse. I don't blame Harrison for going into home hard, not at all. He was trying to score, Yadi was trying to block the plate. Collisions are going to happen. That really is part of the game. 

However, Harrison went in with his forearm up, right about head height. It was, in fact, the sort of thing you would expect to see another Harrison who plays in Pittsburgh do: James Harrison, that is. You know, the constantly fined defensive linebacker for the Steelers famous (or perhaps infamous) for targeting opposing players up high and leading with his head on a fairly regular basis. Harrison -- Josh, that is -- didn't just try to bowl Molina over. He went up high with an elbow. The NFL regularly fines players for that kind of hit; I wonder exactly what will happen in this case?

So here we have a desperate team trying to hold on to its waning playoff hopes, taking on the team threatening to run off with its wild-card spot. And somehow the best player on the latter team is taken out in a collision in which a player from the former team goes into home plate with what looks a lot like a flying elbow to the head. I'm not saying anything. I'm just saying. 

In cases like this, I always like to fall back on my usual criterion for judging just how bush-league a particular move is: What is the likelihood Nyjer Morgan would have pulled a similar stunt?

I'll let you decide for yourself.


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