Baseball is a relatively safe sport. Despite the hurling of a spherical object at ungodly velocities and the carrying of wooden clubs, there’s only a small amount of physical contact between athletes on the field of play. However, the danger of something going wrong amidst an athletic competition will always exist.

This hasn’t been more recently evident than on Wednesday afternoon, when Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy was struck in the side of the head by a line drive off the bat of Erick Aybar of the Los Angeles Angels.

After initial reports suggested that McCarthy was doing well, and would merely have to spend the night in hospital and that would be that, Thursday evening brought a frightening announcement from the A’s public relations staff. According to a team press release, the pitcher underwent a two-hour surgery on Wednesday night after a CT scan revealed an epidural hemorrhage, brain contusion and skull fracture.

An epidural hemorrhage refers to the buildup of blood between the brain and the skull. This is an incredibly dangerous occurrence that happens in only one to three percent of brain injuries, and according to some reports, has a fatality rate as high as 20%. Fortunately for McCarthy, a second CT scan after the surgery showed improvement from his previous scan and revealed that the epidural hemorrhage has subsided. However, he remains in the critical care unit of the hospital with no schedule for release as of yet.

I’m certain that we all echo the following sentiment from Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane:

Our first concern is Brandon’s health, and we are heartened to learn he has shown progress in his recovery after surgery. We are glad to report he is stable, awake and alert. The team will provide further updates as they become available in the coming days. We would ask members of the media to respect the privacy of Brandon and his family during this time. As we travel to Seattle today, Brandon remains in everyone’s thoughts as we wish him a speedy recovery.

Earlier this season, a fan died at Rogers Centre in Toronto after going into cardiac arrest in the middle of the game. At the time I suggested that when we talk about the occurrence of tragedy at a baseball game, we’re typically referring to something that isn’t actually tragic: a four strikeout night for a batter or a bullpen blowing a save. We use inaccurate terminology as a means of describing the goings on of a sport because it is a vicarious experience for us. We suspend our understanding of reason for three hours and allow what’s ultimately a distraction from our day-to-day inanities to take over, entertain us and allow others on the field of play to be vessels for living out our own fantasies.

Make no mistake, baseball is a distraction even for its strongest devotees, and when we’re taken out of that distraction and reminded of reality in the brutal way that we have been with Brandon McCarthy it seems especially impactful, like being jolted out of sleep by electricity instead of gently waken up the natural conclusion of our rest. Injury, life and death are serious business, and it becomes especially serious when we’re reminded of it in a setting that is anything but.

Our best wishes for a speedy recovery are with Mr. McCarthy and his family at this time.

For more information on epidural hemorrhages, here’s a post from Jo Innes from last year on hockey great Ace Bailey.

And The Rest

The Los Angeles Dodgers have opened discussions with General Manager Ned Colletti on a new, long-term contract. [Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness]

Questions for the stretch run. [Baseball Prospectus]

Camden Yard was rocking once again last night, as the YOLOrioles beat the New York Yankees to tie them atop the AL East standings. [Camden Chat]

Meanwhile, in Washington, benches cleared twice as the Nationals crushed the Chicago Cubs for the fourth straight game. [Federal Baseball]

If you could go back in time to see any one baseball game, what would it be? [ESPN]

U.S. taxpayers lost $4 billion in funding new sports stadiums. [Bloomberg News]

Do pitchers induce more ground balls in double play situations? [Beyond The Box Score]

The D.C. Chief of Police is already planning for additional security for when the Washington Nationals win it all. [WTOP Radio]

If Ken Rosenthal could connect his theory to actual actions on the field, I’d likely be more inclined to believe it. [FOX Sports]

Peter Gammons shows us how the Houston Astros are taking their thinking outside of the figurative box. []

Sean Rodriguez hates Dane De La Rosa, and I don’t know, but it all sounds so very juvenile. [Tampa Bay Times]

The most exciting players in baseball [The Sweet Spot Blog]

The decade’s best and worst base runners. [Acta Sports]

An interview with Roy Oswalt. [Fangraphs]