A Youth Baseball Coach is Being Sued For Telling a Kid to Slide

Source -  A New Jersey high school baseball coach was sued after one of his star players got injured sliding into third base. The coach — John Suk — instructed the player — Jake Mesar — to slide into the base on what Suk believed was going to be a “bang-bang play.”

Mesar, who was 15 at the time, heard a pop in his ankle. He needed multiple surgeries to correct the issue. The injury was much worse than you might expect, according to Politi.

Doctors were able to repair Mesar’s ankle, but it came at a cost. His baseball career was over. On top of that, Mesar could no longer do high-impact activities. He was even discouraged from jogging.

Mesar’s attorneys called Suk’s coaching experience and education into question. They painstakingly went over the play, questioning whether Suk gave Mesar enough time to slide and whether Suk was paying attention during the play.

Suk’s defense hovered around one thing: Sliding is a routine action in baseball. An injury like this can happen, but often doesn’t. ...

After some convincing, one member of the jury changed their vote. Suk was cleared. He was facing a seven-figure payment if the jury found Suk liable. 

Let's review. Jake Mesar signed up to play baseball. Therefore we can logically infer that he's aware that there is a game called baseball, what baseball involves, and he has a desire to play such a game. Ipso facto, it is fair to presume he understands that the game he signed up for often involves the act of sliding. 

Furthermore, baseball involves coaches. Who, at the youth level, volunteer their time and effort. Missing overtime at work and dinner at home. Conducting practices in the cold of April, standing out in the rain, breathing infield dirt dust in the hot sun, and trying to teach kids how to pull off a simple outfield relay until they swallow their tongues with boredom. All for the low, low salary of zero dollars. Just for the satisfaction of giving back to their town and maybe getting occasional bedroom eyes from some of the hotter moms. Though not very often. 

And because Jake Mesar messed up his ankle on a slide, John Suk - who has probably sent a thousand Jake Mesars around third on a thousand close plays, came within one jury vote of being on the hook for over a million dollars. 

Have I got this right? Am I missing some detail? He sent the kid home. Which is pretty much the whole point of the baseball exercise. He didn't send him into traffic. He didn't send him into the path of a man-eating tiger:

He didn't tell the kid to slide into a fortified enemy position, guarded with a machine nest, mines and coils of razor wire. He sent him toward home, where I'm going to speculate there was a five-sided plate, an umpire and another kid in catcher's gear and no other threats to his physical well being. It went horribly, horribly wrong. And that's unfortunate. Tough break for Jake, literally. But for that, a guy who signed up to teach kids how to play a game for no money came [holding my thumb and forefinger a millimeter apart] thisclose to being out a million dollars he doesn't have. Otherwise he wouldn't be wasting his time coaching Jake Mesar's baseball team. 

If this lawsuit was successful, that would be it. Game over. It was fun while it lasted (not really), but this is the end of the line. Youth coaches in any sport that aren't completely crazy are in short supply anyway. But you can lose a lawsuit for sending a player around third, then by any definition someone who still volunteers to coach is clinically insane and should be locked up as a danger to themselves and others. 

I'm sorry for the Mesars. I'm sorry for anyone who gets injured in the act of playing a sport. I have no doubt the medical bills on those co-pays and deductibles are no joke. But if you're going to sign your kid up for a funtivity that involves them running around doing things, there are risks involved. There are also rewards. And that ratio is a hell of a lot more beneficial than the risk/reward of keeping your precious darling at home wearing bike helmet, covered in bubble wrap and playing e-sports all day. 

Trying to rectify your situation by taking a guy to court for the crime of trying to beat a throw to the plate is madness, if not actually evil. I'm sure this isn't the last of these suits we're going to see. And trust me, the first time one of these is successful it's going to be the first Jenga piece pulled out of what is already a very wobbly tower of youth sports. Now pardon me while I go weep for the future of my country.