Prior to last night's Yankee loss in Kansas City Yankee one inning relief ace Mariano Rivera injured himself trying to shag a fly ball near the outfield wall. Shag is the baseball term for casually chasing flies in practice. Supposedly Rivera had been doing this for many years and enjoyed it as part of his training regimen.
Rivera suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which is a very serious injury, and for the 42 year old Rivera it is likely to end his pitching career.
It appears clear to me from viewing the moving images several times that Rivera was wearing running shoes, not baseball shoes. This may have caused or contributed to the injury and as such that injury could have been prevented.
I jogged for many years and I wore running shoes when I did because they are great for straight ahead simple running. They do not, however, provide support for lateral movements, which are typical in sports like baseball, football or basketball. Rivera should have known this. Certainly the Yankees should have known this.
I still engage in some softball activity with three friends on Sunday mornings: infield practice and batting practice, which involves running in the outfield when others are batting. I would never wear running shoes for those baseball activities. NEVER. I wear high cut baseball shoes. ALWAYS.
Both Rivera and the Yankees should have been aware of the recent torn ACL injuries suffered in recent days by two much younger NBA players:
- Derek Rose (born October 4, 1988) of the Chicago Bulls
- Iman Shumpert (born June 26, 1990) of the New York Knicks.
Shagging flies in the outfield is a very different activity from jogging in a straight line. It is apparent that Rivera was attempting to change direction slightly as he approached the wall chasing a fly ball when his right leg gave out causing him to collapse.
Would baseball shoes have prevented Rivera's injury? Who knows? Baseball shoes would have made that injury less likely. That's something that the Yankees and other teams need to consider.