The Rizzo Slide
Baseball has changed. Just in case you have not been following the national pastime for as many years as I have, you might take my word for it. Baseball has indeed changed.
The most recent example involved a slide in the Chicago Cubs/Pittsburgh Pirate game. With the bases loaded a Cub batter hit a ground ball to the shortstop who came home with the throw for a force out on Anthony Rizzo. The Pirate catcher fielded the ball while on the plate and then moved into the field of play to try to double up the hitter at first base.
Rizzo, though did the old school slide where he intentionally slid into the catcher’s legs to “break up” the double play. The throw went awry as the catcher tumbled to the ground and the Cubs scored a couple of runs. In the old days that would have been a legitimate and smart play by Rizzo. Today’s game however is different.
Baseball has decided to take a safety first approach to breaking up double plays that presumably came about as a way to protect the high priced players of the modern age. Runners must now slide directly into the base. They cannot deviated to hit the fielder or interference will be called and the double play will happen.
So after the slide, the Pirates complained and the umpires used to replay to see if Rizzo had indeed used an illegal slide. No interference was detected and the play stood as called.
Back to the old school philosophy. Would the Pirates retaliate against Rizzo the next time he came to the plate? In the old days he would likely have been plunked for potentially hurting the Pirate player. He was not – on this day – as well as the next, at least until his last at bat when the Pirate pitcher threw at his legs. In the old days that would likely have ended things.
My biggest concern in this situation is how baseball missed the call on replay. I am not a big fan of replay in any sport, but it is inevitable that it will be used. Baseball said at the time that no interference took place. A day later they changed their mind and admitted that it was an illegal slide.
The view from my seat suggests that the big problem with this whole play was that replay got it wrong and that is cause for concern!