If you are a baseball traditionalist who hates the replay, wants catcher collisions, doesn’t want a rule for sliding into second base and so forth, this is not the article for you. The evolution of baseball is real. They’re not only necessary but they are a good thing for the sport. Yes, I fully support these new rules in Major League Baseball.
Let’s start with collisions at home plate.
If you have ever questioned this rule or why we need it, think about it from the view of a manager, teammate, general manager, or even family member of the catcher. Each of these people would give you a similar perspective. If you are a manager or general manager, would you rather see your catcher get completely blown up at the plate and have the possibility of missing games due to injury, or possibly give up one run due to the sliding lane that is now in place in the MLB? Hell, if he gets blown up he may give up the run anyway and now be severely injured. If you are a teammate of the catcher, would you be content making a bullet throw from left field just to see your catcher not only get lit up, but drop the ball in the process and give up the run while he is laying on the ground motionless? Anyone who says this rule as well as others are making the game “soft” are the same people who say the NFL is soft due to tackle and concussion rules now in place.
The bottom line is, this isn’t 1971 with Doc Ellis pitching on LSD and Clemente throwing bullets from the right field wall to watch his catcher drop his shoulder on the baserunner. This is 2016. Believe it or not, we have medical technology that can tell us that these collisions drastically impaired the LIVES of many due to brain trauma. Why risk our favorite players’ lives for one collision?
Next we have the one year old MLB Replay rules. Now, I know this is a very disputed subject, but I believe I can give you a perspective to consider. If you are against the replay such as Maggie Tyler, who wrote a great and convincing argument on the site yesterday describing how replay takes the human element out of the game, I don’t plan on changing your mind. I simply plan on giving you some food for thought that may make you reconsider. The most popular argument I see against replay is how it takes the human element out of the game. How one or two bad calls on a bang-bang play at first is part of the game. I don’t disagree with you, a bang-bang play was a major part of the game for a long time. But have you considered the gold glove caliber plays that may have been made but didn’t get the out call due to no replay? If Josh Donaldson or Manny Machado range all the way through the coach’x box, make a back-handed snag and a jumping bullet throw off their back foot to first base, shouldn’t they get the out call if the runner were truly out? If Gregory Polanco comes up hard in right field and guns to first base to beat the batter to the bag, should he simply accept not getting the call even if the runner were in fact out and we could clearly see it on replay? Maybe the most impressive act we have seen using replay are the acrobatic slides that lead to safe calls. If Mike Trout is sliding head first into third base and has the athleticism to lift a whole side of his body to avoid a tag and have a reach-around grip on the bag, we should simply accept the ump’s out call even though Trout showed supreme athleticism and was in fact safe? These plays we saw within the last year were plays nobody made note of in past seasons due to them simply going down as “A great play but the throw was too late to the bag,” or “A great sliding attempt by Trout but he’s ruled out.” These are the best baseball players in the world, don’t they deserve recognition for some of the best plays we see throughout a season?
My last argument is in support of some form of rule for sliding into second base breaking up double plays. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am all for breaking up a double play. I have even taught kids how to slide to break up a double play in pony league and junior high. My argument is against slides such as Chase Utley’s infamous slide that took out Ruben Tejada for an extended period of time. Or how about Chris Coghlan’s slide to take out Jung-Ho Kang for the rest of the Pirates season with a broken leg. Baseballfam founder Shane Sullivan said it best in a periscope broadcast last week when he said, “If the shortstop is standing right on the base trying to make a throw, by all means lay his a** out in the dirt. But, if someone like Tejada or Kang is standing four feet to the side of the bag and you have to physically slide sideways in order to get your ankles into their kneecaps, that shouldn’t be permitted.” I completely agree. If the runner’s momentum is directed at the bag and the slide is with complete intention of reaching the bag, by all means take out someone who is standing on top of the bag or trying to jump over you. But other than that, there’s no place for breaking the legs of short-stops or second baseman just to break up a double play.
Many of you won’t agree with my view on baseball and these rules in Major League Baseball. My hope is not to change all of your minds, but simply to give you a different perspective into the reasons the evolution of baseball is here and the reasons why it’s a good thing.