Holliday’s heedless late slide requires re-write of Runner Interference rule
After Matt Holliday took out Giants’ Second baseman Marco Scutaro in game 2 of the NLCS, the umpires should have called the batter out and ruled it a double play. It’s past time for the Commissioner’s office and the MLBPA to join together to refine the runner interference rule [6.05 m] and urge the umpires to enforce it strictly, before the game is turned into hockeyball.
A clear line must be drawn between “playing hard” and playing with reckless abandon; you can take out an infielder at 2b to break up a double play with a slide, but you cannot do so in a manner that is likely to injure him.
Instead of just calling Holliday out, because the ball arrived before he did, the umpire should have ruled runner interference and also called the batter, running to first base, out as well.
RULE 6.05 A batter is out when—
(m) A preceding runner shall, in the umpire’s judgment, intentionally interfere with a fielder who is attempting to catch a thrown ball or to throw a ball in an attempt to
Complete any play:
Rule 6.05(m) Comment: The objective of this rule is to penalize the offensive team for deliberate, unwarranted, unsportsmanlike action by the runner in leaving the baseline for the obvious purpose of crashing the pivot man on a double play, rather than trying to reach the base. Obviously this is an umpire’s judgment play.
This is “an umpire’s judgment play” and, since Holliday did not begin his slide until he was over the bag, it was clearly his intention to interfere with the pivot man on the double play.
The rule needs to add to the phrase “leaving the baseline”—“or failing to begin his slide within 3 feet of the bag” to give guidance to the umpire’s judgment.
Tony LaRussa, perhaps the premiere manager of the modern era, called it “a clean play.” Perhaps Tony was looking at the play through Cardinal eyes, because, if he were the Giants’ manager, it would be easy to imagine him all over the umpires, pleading his case for the enforcement of Rule 6.05 (m).
The crash at the plate that ended Buster Posey’s season was another example of the “slide” from “hard-nosed” play to wanton brutality.
"Bud Selig, does this violence belong the game of baseball?"
The play at home needs to balance the runner’s right to reach the plate and the catcher’s right to survive the collision.
Since a runner can be injured, the catcher is not allowed to block the plate, before a throw is made to him by a fielder. Once the ball is in flight, the catcher is allowed to take his position near the plate to block the runner’s access and tag him out.
The infamous Pete Rose run over Ray Fosse in the All-Star game, which essentially sent Fosse’s All-Star career into a dive, is a case in point.
And, the tagline from Bud Selig’s MLB PR morons:
“Is that the greatest play in All-Star game history?”
To balance the rights of the catcher and runner, two clarifications should be added to the rules:
- Runners must slide into home.
- The “base path” must be defined to allow the runner the opportunity to slide around a catcher who is legally blocking the plate. Instead of the standard distance applied to the bases, the “plate path” at home should be enlarged to 6 feet to the left and right of the plate.
These two changes would prevent the runner from attempting to run through the catcher, by allowing the runner the option to slide wide enough to avoid the tag and then touch the plate. Imagine a runner sliding to the 1b side of the plate, avoiding the tag, and rolling back to tag the plate.
Unless the Commissioner of MLB and the MLBPA take action to assure that rules that prevent injuries are defined and enforced, the Game of Grace could turn into a just another American blood sport.