Break Up The Double Play Not The Player

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I’ve updated this post as a result of a nasty by Chase Utley that amounted to a body block into Ruben Tejada during the NLDS and breaking Tejada’s leg. Somehow players and many fans think that’s okay.

Some said Tejada should not have turned his back on the runner because he knew the runner was going to plow into him like a pile driver. Really? Is that what we want? Baseball player making contact with the intent of hitting a player so hard he’s unable to play? I though that was football. Even in football you can’t take a player out at the knees from behind because it causes serious injury and they wear pads head to toe.

Such slides aren’t macho or manly. It violates the intent and should once again violate of the rules of the game.  I say once again because prior to this season MLB removed the rule I previously quoted here; 6.05m. That rule specifically made slides like the one on Kang and and tonight’s slide on Tejada illegal. The question is why do that?

== Original post with edits follows

On the 17th of September Chris Coghlan’s slide resulted in a broken leg and torn knee ligament for Jung Ho Kang, ending his season and damaging the Pirates post season chances. The slide was legal only because of the acceptance of the take-out slide and the neighborhood play. Looking closely at the rules however, we find that neither should be considered acceptable or legal.

Before I go farther let me clarify that I do not think Coghlan or any player mentioned below are dirty players who on a regular basis seek to injure anyone. These are by no means the only incidents or only players who’ve been involved, just a few I’ve chosen as examples.

The type of Play In question

Most fans know we are talking about a play variously called the neighborhood play or vicinity play where a runner attempts to break-up and thus prevent a middle infielder from completing a double play. The video below shows an egregious example that actually ends up with a correct call.

Kudos to the umpires for getting it right but why did it require the manager to go complain and a meeting of the entire crew to do so?

A little history

Most of you know I’m old. The first baseball game I remember watching was Don Larsen’s perfecto in the 56 World Series. My dad was a baseball guy and while we could never afford the trip to a major league game, we watched every televised game possible from about 1958 through 1968.

I recall hard slides into the base that the shortstop had to jump to avoid but I don’t recall ever seeing a player slide at a middle infielder who was six feet away from the base rather than at the base. It could have happened but if it had the sliding player would certainly have found a fastball tucked delicately into his ribs his next plate appearance. That was the way the game was played.

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