No sense in going into last night disaster at Dodger Stadium – what can I say that hasn’t already been said. However, there were a couple of positives from the game, albeit not many. We got to see Yasiel Puig make an absolutely impossible diving catch, we got to see Alex Castellanos return to the Big leagues and hit a home run in his first 2013 at bat, and we got to see the major league debut of Nick Buss and watch the 26-year-old former USC Trojan collect his first MLB hit.
But there was another little gem in last night’s game and it also involved Nick Buss. It is something that is taught in the lowest levels of professional baseball and probably even in high school and college ball; if it isn’t, it definitely should be. It is also something that undoubtedly went unnoticed by most of the 53,062 in attendance at Dodger Stadium.
After pinch hitting for Carl Crawford in the bottom of the third inning and flying out to center field in his first major league at bat, Buss remained in the game taking over for Crawford in left field. After taking his warm-up tosses, Buss suddenly turned towards the left field wall and began walking briskly towards it. He continued to the edge of the grass and across the warning track right up to the base of the wall.
Why did Nick Buss do this?
The answer is not only very simple but it is extremely smart as well – he wanted to know exactly how many steps he would have on the warning track before running into the wall in the event that he had to run down a deep fly ball. As I said, simple but extremely smart.
The point to all of this is that for some unknown reason there is no uniformity in the width of warning tracks in major league baseball and for the life of me I cannot figure out why. Heaven knows that a having a uniformly sized warning track could and would prevent countless injuries caused by players running into the wall. This year alone at Dodger Stadium we witnessed Bryce Harper and even Yasiel Puig crash into the wall trying to run down fly balls (in Puig’s case several times).
If every MLB ball park had identical warning track widths, there would be no good reason for outfielders to crash into walls (Puig notwithstanding). And when you consider that every MLB teams now plays 20 interleague games the significance of this is even greater.
Until the MLB gets off the stick on this issue, outfielders (at least the smart ones) will have to do exactly what Nick Buss did before the very first inning of the very first MLB game he ever played in, and will have to do it (or should do it) at every ball park they travel to across the country.
Now, if we can only get Nick Buss to explain this to Yasiel Puig…