In the first inning of last night’s Padres win over the woebegone Reds, Luke Voit attempted to score from first on a Jurickson Profar double to the left field corner, only to clatter into Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson. Stephenson held onto the ball to make the out, though he did so at a price. As Voit is approximately the size and shape of a Mini Cooper, he won the collision, knocking Stephenson out of the game and into concussion protocols.
The Reds immediately challenged the call, though umpires ruled that Stephenson was squarely positioned within the base path. The Padres went on to win, handing the Reds their eighth straight loss, Voit did not reach base again, and aside from standard-issue grumblings from Reds partisans who were unhappy but also had to admit that Voit had nowhere else to go, that might very well have been that. Reds manager David Bell said the “helpless feeling” of watching his guy get popped in the head was “scary,” though he admitted Voit was blocked.
Bell’s own players, however, were not so conciliatory. “Not too often you see a runner slide and grab someone’s head and slam it to the ground like that,” Reds shortstop Kyle Farmer said. “You’re usually trying to reach for the bag. Maybe that’s what he was trying to do. After looking at the replay, it looked like a wrestling move to Tyler’s head and snapped it down.”
Tommy Pham took it a step further by issuing a challenge to Voit to meet him in San Diego for a Temecula-style brawl. He called the slide, “Dirty as fuck,” mentioned that he knew a gym in San Diego where the two dudes could throw hands before the Reds leave town on Wednesday night, and came up with some ideas for how the fight could go. Voit and Pham were teammates on the Cardinals for a year and a half, so maybe there’s something more going on here.
This is good banter, though we should turn now to the two participants in the collision for their takes. “I wasn’t trying to take him out or anything,” Voit said. “I guess my elbow just kind of smoked his head a little bit. Hope he’s all right, no hard feelings. It’s baseball. I wasn’t trying to make it dirty or anything. I’m just trying to make a play obviously.” Voit using the verb “smoked” there is pretty funny, given that he was trying to exculpate himself, though he is totally right. Stephenson simply called scoreboard.