With the Washington Nationals missing adventurous outfielder Bryce Harper because of an injury, somebody else needed to step forward and make a spectacularly risky catch Monday night.
Enter: Nate McLouth, who made a diving grab in foul territory of a fly ball in the eighth inning that helped to preserve a 4-0 victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers. McLouth banged his right knee and left thumb on the play and came out of the game, but manager Matt Williams said later:
And his knee is OK, too, beyond not needing stitches? Bruise or anything? Earth to Matt. Hello. Never mind. Anyway, it was a great catch, a selfless if somewhat reckless act. And, even though it's the kind of play for which Harper drew criticism sometimes, pitcher Tyler Clippard appreciated it.
Another detail to notice: The padding in the outfield fence doesn't go all of the way to the ground. Nationals Park is not the only stadium that works like this, but it's a safety hazard — obviously, because McLouth banged his knee on concrete and/or metal or whatever is behind the padding. The padding around the railing doesn't look all that "padded" either, but there's only so many precautions a team can take at a ballpark. Having fence padding that goes all of the way to the ground would seem to be one of them.
Padding that went to the ground also would prevent balls from getting wedged — or players from pretending that a ball was wedged — thus creating lengthy disputes of another nature. Perhaps it's something the team could fix when the Nats are next on the road. Or during the All-Star break. Offseason. Sometime.
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