Posted on May 14, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
Baseball’s now infamous slide rule has caused quite a bit of controversy since it was put into place. The latest controversy occurred Saturday evening, leading to Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon and pitcher Jon Lester to hold nothing back in expressing their feelings about the rule following the team’s 5-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.
On the play in question, Cubs rookie Ian Happ, who was making his big league debut, appeared to do his part to help break up a possible double play by sliding hard into Cardinals shortstop Aledmys Diaz at second base. However, Happ was ruled to have slid a few feet past the bag. He was out, as was the batter, Anthony Rizzo.
Most importantly, the run Kyle Schwarber appeared to have scored while coming home from third base on the play was taken off the board, as the double-play ended the inning. With that, the top of the 5th ended with the Cubs trailing 3-1 instead of trailing 3-2 with a runner on first and two outs.
The replay shows that Happ clearly ended up a few feet past the bag, which by the letter of the law, would be the correct call. However, the replay also shows Diaz making a half-hearted motion as if he were to throw the ball but ended up not attempting a throw to first to get Rizzo, who likely would have beat the throw anyway.
Maddon came out to argue with the umpires, forcing them to review the play. But upon further review, the call on the field was upheld, leading to an unhappy Maddon following the game.
“I have no idea why these rules are part of our game,” Maddon said after the game. “There was an out created there. That was just one out they did not have to earn. I totally, absolutely disagree with that. It has nothing to do with safety and protecting the middle infielder.”
The rule in question states that the base runner has to make an effort to remain on the base. Happ was clearly past the bag, but that didn’t stop Maddon from questioning the principle behind the rule.
“When you’re sliding on dirt and you have momentum, you just keep going,” Maddon said. “There was no malicious intent there whatsoever. The rule does not belong in the game. There was nothing egregiously dangerous on the part of our runner. Don’t give me hyperbole and office created rules because I’m not into those things, as you guys well know.”
Jon Lester, who took the loss in the game after allowing four runs (three earned) over 5.2 innings, also voiced his displeasure over the call.
“Baseball has been played for over 100 years the exact same way, and now we’re trying to change everything and make it soft,” Lester said. “That’s baseball, man. We’re out there playing with a bunch of pansies right now. I’m over this damn slide rule and re-playing if it’s too far and all this other B.S. We’re grown men out there.”
Lester quickly tried to move on, saying he was “over the rule.” However, Maddon wasn’t so quick to let the subject go.
“In general, we have a tendency to micromanage stuff that we have no business attempting to do,” Maddon said. “Don’t give me all this protectionism, injury stuff because I’m not buying into it.”
Maddon went on to say that he’d like to see that slide rule and a similar rule aimed at preventing collisions at home plate taken out of the game. “They have no place in our game,” Maddon said.