Carlos Correa plays with unbridled enthusiasm. It's part of what makes him great.
Carlos Correa is down, the Houston Astros suddenly don’t look like as tough of an out and the Internet wants to assign blame. That’s how things go in Troll Land. It means that the comments of every story detailing Correa’s thumb injury contain diatribes criticizing Correa for sliding headfirst into home plate.
On Twitter, the 22-year-old future American League MVP (the only question is what year Correa will win it in) is being cast as some reckless, baseball dunce. Sliding headfirst has suddenly been deemed a cardinal sin against the game. It comes from people who only started paying attention to the Astros this year and from sports know-it-alls who really should know better.
Suddenly Correa is at fault for his own injury and responsible for putting the Astros’ dominant dream season at risk? Please. Even Ann Coulter’s Delta fight makes more sense than this.
Correa is Carlos Correa in part because he plays with a relentless passion. Regardless of the game situation. It’s an important piece of what makes him great. You know what other player is sometimes dogged for sliding headfirst? Two-time AL MVP Mike Trout, the best player in baseball.
And what does Trout do in his first game back from a thumb injury caused by a headfirst slide? He slides headfirst to steal a base.
Here’s hoping that Correa does the same when he returns for the playoffs.
Yes, the torn thumb ligament that will sideline Correa for two months clearly dates back to a headfirst slide into home on Independence Day in a game the Astros led by a touchdown. Correa hurt the thumb further on a swing Monday night, and it finally became too much to play through. The fact that Correa could go 4 for 5 with two home runs in a game in Toronto in-between with the thumb still hurting says plenty about just how talented he truly is.
It also speaks to his determination.
You don’t become the first No. 1 overall draft pick from Puerto Rico without having a special makeup. That’s part of what made Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow so sure that Correa — who almost no one expected to go No. 1 — would be great.
You don’t mess with that to make Correa conform to how you think the game should be played. Even if it’s the supposedly safer way.
Especially when may not even actually be safer. Speedy Angels outfielder Cameron Maybin prefers to slide headfirst too. But partly in response to the criticism the Angeles have received for the practice, he went with a feet first slide instead on Tuesday night. And promptly injured himself.
It isn’t Correa’s fault that he played hard in a blowout and got hurt. There is no need to scold him, change him or remold him. It’s just a twist of baseball fate.
You don’t mess with greatness. You just let him heal — and see what he comes back and does in the playoffs. Chances are it will be special.