Last week the entire White Sox nation collectively held their breath as Willy Garcia and top prospect Yoan Moncada lay injured in right field.
The two viciously collided after chasing a pop up behind second base. Garcia had slid to catch the ball, while Moncada, reacting to Garcia’s slide, tried to jump over his teammate, unfortunately connecting his right knee with the side of Garcia’s head.
You could hear a pin drop, as no one inside Guaranteed Rate Field made a single sound. Moncada was laid out, clearly in pain and grabbing his right knee. Garcia, who took the brunt of the collision, was knocked out by the force. Jose Abreu later said after the game that he was so scared because he didn’t know who to help first. Garcia somehow stumbled off the field under his own power, while Moncada limped over to a stretcher to be carried off.
This meme/picture (tweeted out by @NotKenWilliams) adequately depicted how every single White Sox fan was feeling in this moment. Since Yoan was okay, it’s easy to look back at this and chuckle and the caricature. But in the moment, we all felt exactly like Simba did in The Lion King.
The fortunate spin to all of this is that neither player was seriously hurt. Garcia, sidelined with just a fractured jaw (and probably a concussion), and Moncada day-to-day with a bruised right knee. A huge sigh of relief for everyone, and a bullet dodged by the White Sox.
Once I settled down, it dawned on me how for this whole “plan” to work, the White Sox are obviously going to have to be good, but they’re also going to have to be really lucky too.
Would a serious injury to Moncada have been a guaranteed derailment to his and the White Sox future? Not necessarily. But it certainly would not have been good omen. Of course Yoan could have recovered from say, a torn ACL, for example. But it also could easily go in the other direction, where his serious injury during his rookie season continues to nag him throughout a mediocre career. This applies to any of these young players we have coming up.
Chicago fans are primarily haunted by the first Derrick Rose injury in 2012. The young MVP, set to lead an up-and-coming Bulls team for years to come, cut down by a brutal ACL injury in the first game of the playoffs. Top-seeded Chicago would lose to the Sixers, and Rose and the Bulls would never be the same again. We now have to settle for the proverbial “what if” questions regarding Rose and what his career, and hometown Bulls, could have been. Unlucky.
I’d like to not have those conversations ten years down the road about the Sox.
This isn’t to say that zero injuries are going to happen during this run the Sox are set up for. On the contrary, in fact. Highly touted pitching prospect Zack Burdi has already been scheduled for Tommy John surgery, ending his season, and slowing down his development. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but also maybe a good thing that it happened now as opposed to 2020. That’s perhaps one way to justify and deal with it, I guess.
Unfortunately, injuries are always going to happen. It’s a natural part of sports. Guys are going to get banged up, and from time to time seriously hurt. The best we can hope is that our guys’ potential injuries can be timely, minimal and possibly avoided overall. That’s where the luck will come in. And I’d almost rather be lucky than good.