A very gruesome photo from the AP showing the damage to Kendry Morales’ broken leg.
Note: I wrote my Sunday column on Tagg Bozied and Kendry Morales. I wanted to just post the link, but it isn’t up yet, so I just posted it the other way. Obviously you’ve heard of the second person, but maybe not the first. But they are kind of linked. I actually got to talk to Bozied in 2007 when I was covering the Rainiers. One other note: I don’t know if I portrayed in my column is that Bozied has tried to move on from what happened. He says all the right things, and says them believably and convincingly. But if you look closer, if you look underneath the words, there is an ache of life and baseball’s random unfairness. How can there not be?
Sunday column … after the jump
At some point, Tagg Bozied will see the highlight and cringe – if he hasn’t already.
He won’t be available to avoid it.
Between the eight ESPN networks and MLB TV, Bozied will have to see the replay of Kendry Morales ripping a walk-off grand slam, rounding the bases in job, heading home with his fist raised and leaping into the air at home plate where his joyous teammates were awaiting to greet him.
Thankfully, the replays won’t show the gruesome Morales’ foot getting caught or the bones in his lower leg fracturing.
But just the sight of Morales jumping into the pile in joy and then laying on the ground in pain will probably make Bozied nauseous.
Perhaps a few of Bozied’s teammates on the Double A Reading Phillies will even make jokes about Morales’ fateful celebration, not knowing the history of their teammate.
But it’s pretty certain that Bozied won’t laugh. All he has to do is look down at the scar on his knee to know that there’s nothing funny about what happened to Morales.
You see no one in baseball knows more about what Morales is going though than Bozied.
Because he had basically the same thing happen to him six years ago.
It was on July 19, 2004 that Bozied’s baseball career took a permanent side track. He was decently-rated prospect playing for the Triple A Portland Beavers in the Pacific Coast League, having hit 14 homers and driven in 59 runs in 2003 – his first season in Triple A.
On that night in Portland, he hit a walk-off grand slam – his 16th homer of the season – off of Tacoma Rainiers reliever Scott Atchison at PGE Park to give the Beavers an 8-5 win.
As Bozied rounded the bases, he headed home to his awaiting and happy teammates. He jumped in the air to land on home plate.
“Then everything went black, the last thing I remember was being on the stretcher,” he told me a few years ago after hitting another grand slam against the Rainiers, this time for the Memphis Redbirds.
Bozied had ruptured his patella tendon in his left knee, and his season was over.
Admittedly, the knee was never completely the same. He was released by the Padres after a combined 26 games and Double A and Triple A.
Since then he’s kicked around the minors for five seasons with five different organizations.
Even back in 2007, when I tried to talk to Bozied more about that regrettable celebration, it was clear that time had healed the knee, but not the hurt of the injury.
It wasn’t that he was bitter or angry. He tried to sound resolute, but there was still a tinge of “what-might-have-been” in his voice.
Will this injury sidetrack Morales’ career? No one is quite sure. It certainly hurts the Angels’ season. Their most dangerous hitter will have surgery and likely miss the rest of the season.
Consequently, there will certainly be an outcry in the media about tempering celebrations with Morales injury serving as the cautionary tale.
Someone will likely say that they are surprised it hasn’t happened before. But with a little research, they would know that it had.
But it’s a game. And both players were having fun and celebrating victory. It was just a cruel twist, literally and metaphorically, that left the two men hurt.
Fortunately for Bozied, his moment of minor infamy and major injury came in an un-televised Triple A game, so he hasn’t had to relive perhaps the most frustrating moment of his baseball career over and over.
Well that all changed on Saturday. Morales’ moment came in a Fox national game and the highlight will be logged forever on the Internet. And every time Bozied will see it, he will have to relive what happened to him – another unfair reminder that baseball can be a cruel, cruel game.