Last night, the Atlanta Braves took a one-game to none lead in the 2021 World Series, defeating the Houston Astros six to two at Minute Maid Park. Jorge Soler and Adam Duvall homered for the Braves. The pitching staff of the latter quieted the Astros bats via group effort after starting pitcher Charlie Morton left the game in the third inning following his right fibula being broken in the second inning courtesy of a line drive off the bat of Yuli Gurriel.
Yes, you read that right. Morton continued to pitch on a broken leg.
If any sport is known for players missing time due to, shall we say, oddball injuries, it is baseball. This year alone, we had pitchers miss time after breaking a bone while punching a wall, taking off their shirt, or playing video games. Players cut themselves while doing dishes. Players have missed games due to frostbite because they left an ice pack on their foot too long. Even the great Joe DiMaggio was not immune to fluke circumstances; after suffering a minor foot injury during spring training, an overly enthusiastic diathermy machine used during treatment burned his foot and took him out of the lineup for two weeks.
Contact sports, namely football and hockey, are replete with tales of players playing with broken bones. It’s usually not the leg, though. That would be rather difficult to overcome, although Bob Baun of the Toronto Maple Leafs not only played with a broken leg suffered during Game Six of the 1964 Stanley Cup Finals, he scored the game-winning goal. He then played in Game Seven, which the Maple Leafs won four to nothing to take the Cup. Knee being held together with duct tape and a prayer? Elbow bending in all possible directions? Shoulder needing an anvil tied on top to keep it in place? Ankle so swollen its diameter is five inches bigger than your calf? No problem, Coach, I can play with pain.
What Morton did last night is remarkable in any sport. Losing him is a definite blow to the Braves, who will now call on their bullpen even more than the already planned heavy use to keep the Astros potent lineup at bay. Bear in mind, though, that Atlanta has been without the services of its best player and all-around superstar Ronald Acuña Jr. since July, yet here they are in the Fall Classic. If any team can make the magic happen — and if any team and its city deserve the magic to happen — it’s the Braves.