Last night’s game 2 between the Giants and Cardinals will be remembered as the game of “the Slide”. When St Louis’ Matt Holliday went into second base with a late slide, the outcome was not pretty for San Francisco’s Marco Scutaro. Scutaro got his left leg trapped under the 235 pound Holliday and we are still waiting on the final MRI report. Scutaro stayed in the game long enough to drive in critical runs later in the game but he had to leave with hip pain in later innings.
A little history lesson first. July 24 1988: Giants player Will Clark slid hard into second base to break up a double play. It was not exactly the barrel roll that Holiday gave Scutaro last night but it was a hard play still. Both benches cleared and included among the melee was now Reds manager, Dusty Baker as well as HOF shortstop Ozzie Smith. It was one of the ugliest brawls that I can remember on the baseball field.
Now here we are 24 years later and MLB has still not “fixed” this controversial play. There were all kinds of bitches and complaints when Posey went down last year about fixing the situation at home plate. So why does it not come up to fix this type of play? Tradition; maybe. It’s what the players learn and like; I doubt it. So why?
The whole play however leaves both sides with very different points of view. The Cardinals support Holliday as a hard but clean player while the Giants contend that it was an illegal and dirty slide. Both of those stronger view points come more from management than the players. Nobody has advocated Holliday as a dirty player, but none have come right out and said that’s the way the game is played.
In my opinion Holliday is not a dirty player. I do however think he made a bad decision too late. He had the play in front of him and if he was going to slide it should have been earlier and more direct route to the bag.
And here lies the main problem; the 2012 edition of MLB rules, chapter 7 does not clearly dictate what is a legal or illegal slide. By the Federation rule book the route Holliday took was illegal, please keep in mind the Federation rule book governs High School play. The NCAA baseball rule book Rule 8, Section 4.c clearly states the illegal slide for cross body, rolling or pop up slide is considered illegal and both the runner and batter-run will be declared out and no advance by any other runner.
I have seen many posts on this issue today that quotes Rule 7.08(b) Comment: A runner who is adjudged to have hindered a fielder who is attempting to make a play on a batted ball is out whether it was intentional or not. If, however, the runner has contact with a legally occupied base when he hinders the fielder, he shall not be called out unless, in the umpire’s judgment, such hindrance, whether it occurs on fair or foul territory, is intentional. If the umpire declares the hindrance intentional, the following penalty shall apply: With less than two out, the umpire shall declare both the runner and batter out. With two out, the umpire shall declare the batter out. This rule is NOT the ruling that is applied in the case of a “take out” slide at second.
Another rule that presents even more ambiquity to the case is rule 7.09
7.09 It is interference by a batter or a runner when—(f) If, in the judgment of the umpire, a base runner willfully and deliberately interferes with a batted ball or a fielder in the act of fielding a batted ball with the obvious intent to break up a double play, the ball is dead. The umpire shall call the runner out for interference and also call out the batter-runner because of the action of his teammate. In no event may bases be run or runs scored because of such action by a runner.
Both of these rules state that the interference deals with a “batted ball” but not a relay of a ball or acceptance of a throw from another fielder. This leaves room for interpretation and that is what fans get upset about.
The MLB rule book also leaves out what is a legal slide. All players from little league through college has a definitive rule for what constitutes a legal slide but those words do not even appear in the entire MLB rule book 2012. So again, fans and players alike get upset when they “think” a play is dirty, illegal or whatever but the play comes back to a judgement ruling.
If anyone out there anywhere has an official rule book for Major League Basebook that clearly defines this controversy I would love to see it. Until then I am along with the rest of the world left juding for ourselves; was it dirty, or was it history repeating itself?
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