Sunday, October 11, 2015

Let's Go Mets

In case you missed it, last night's Mets-Dodgers game was marred by a nasty play in the seventh inning. In a move that Pirates fans will find depressingly reminiscent of the season-ending injury to Bucs shortstop Jung Ho Kang, the Dodgers' Chase Utley, running from first on a ground ball, tried to break up a double play by barreling into Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada, not starting his "slide" until he was nearly past second base, well to the right of the bag, breaking Tejada's leg. If you want to see the play, it's all over the Internet. I'm not going to link to it here. As the owner of precisely zero healthy knees, I tend to turn away when it comes to leg injuries.

Utley's slide--like that of the Cubs' Chris Coghlan into Kang--was fairly clearly legal under baseball rules. The question is whether it should be. People say, "it's part of baseball," but that's not a compelling justification. Hitting a baserunner with a thrown ball in order to put him out used to be part of baseball. Spitballs used to be part of baseball. Home plate collisions used to be part of baseball. Baseball's gotten rid of of these. The NCAA requires players to slide on the ground--not perform rolling blocks aimed at the fielder's knee--and only along a straight line between the bases (Coghlin was well to the outfield side of second when he hit Kang, Utley less so), and baseball's survived.

Several smart commentators--Grant Brisbee of SB Nation and Dave Cameron of FanGraphs, to name two--already have pieces up calling for changing the rule on takeout slides. Such a rule change will undoubtedly lead to howls of protest. Remember that this is the same mindset that predicted myriad problems and threatened a boycott when the rules were changed to make players stop leaving their gloves on the field between innings. Tradition dies hard, but sometimes it really does need to die.

I really had no rooting interest in this series. After last night, though, let's go Mets.

No comments:

Post a Comment