I have now had 24 hours to calm down and digest the “Travesty in Tampa” and I can honestly say the more I have reviewed the replays, the more of a crime I believe it becomes. I do not blame the umpires for reviewing the play and making the call that they did. I do not blame Major League Baseball for implementing a rule which was made with all the right intentions. I blame the over protective, over reactionary wussified world that we live in. A world where we start teaching our children at a young age that scoreboards are evil, everybody is your best friend and no one ever loses. We caution them of all the prevalent dangers in sports and life and ultimately create doubts and fears, often times unnecessarily. Yes there are risks involved in everything that we do, but our goal should be to manage those risk, not eliminate them. Without a certain element of risk that we inherently crave as human beings, there is no chance sports would be a multi billion dollar industry.
Rule 6.01 was implemented this off season to protect middle infielders from excessive aggressions by base runners trying to target middle infielders. The safety of the players was rightfully on the mind of both MLB and the MLBPA but I do not think either one could have ever imagined the overall detrimental impact it would have on games just days into the 2016 season.
First and foremost I am 100% in when it comes to doing everything within reason to make the game safer for the players. The problem is we have officially crossed a line which is now compromising the game of baseball as a whole. Talking with FP Santangelo, a former teammate with the Oakland A’s and current broadcaster for the Washington Nationals, he estimated that there are nearly 10,000 slides a year at 2nd base, yet largely because of one unfortunate highly publicized slide in last years playoffs, MLB now has a major problem on their hands.
The solution is simple. As recently as last year MLB had invoked a rule that required players to demonstrate complete control of the baseball in order to be awarded an out. Within weeks there were several plays in which players clearly had caught the ball and then juggled the transfer. In just about everyone of those cases, what used to be an out for the past 150 years was no longer. MLB realized the problem immediately and swiftly amended the rule. This situation is no different.
The spirit of rule 6.01 is to protect the middle infielders and even the baserunner. Therefore, so long as there is not intent by the baserunner to aggressively target a second baseman or shortstop, a no call, just as in years past, would be made. Then, in the rare case in which the runner irresponsibly charges into second base putting his and other players health at risk, the runner and the batter will both be called out.
This is a very subjective call so I would rather put my faith in the umpires on the field who are able to watch the play unfold in real time rather than dudes sitting in Chelsea Market crushing overpriced vegetable sushi 3000 miles away. Ideally, this play would NOT be a reviewable.
Baseball is a team sport made up of individual performances. When I was taught to break up a double play I was taught to use my entire body, no matter what it took. Of course there was an element of risk involved for both myself and the middle infielders. It is important that we understand these dudes get paid millions of dollars have a firm understanding of the potential dangers every time they take the field. As much as this may be a disappointment to many, i don’t think it is possible to play baseball in a bubble.
Looking back, my most proud moments on a baseball field had nothing to do with individual glory found within a box score but rather individual efforts that ultimately benefited the greater good of the team. Responsibly and selflessly and breaking up a double play represents everything that is right with the game, NOT wrong.