The Slide Heard Around the URLs (UPDATES: Bad Slide!)

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It is somewhat appropriate that Justin McGuire and I talked at length about the unwritten rules and beanball wars in the latest Dreamcast, as the Chicago Cubs and the San Diego Padres may have ignited some kind of feud from last night’s game:

There may be some bad feelings between the two teams after a play in the sixth when Anthony Rizzo collided with Padres catcher Austin Hedges at the plate. Rizzo was trying to score from third on a fly ball by Kris Bryant to center but Matt Szczur made a perfect throw home. Hedges had to leave the game with a bruised right thigh. Afterward, Padres manager Andy Green was none too pleased with what he considered “a cheap shot” on his starting catcher.

The angles weren’t very flattering for those who would side by Anthony Rizzo, as I’m sure many Cubs fans would.  He ran straight for the plate, may have redirected ever so slightly into Hedges, and slid late, although he led with his feet and not his shoulders.  If you check out the video of Rizzo’s slide, it doesn’t look nearly as bad as this one:

I think the slide, even if late, is what will save Rizzo from a suspension or fine.  In a game setting, if Rizzo had dislodged the ball, the Padres likely would have challenged based on the collision rule and won, which would negate the run and then everyone would move on.  The only issue is that Hedges suffered a thigh bruise and was obviously in some distress after getting steamrolled by Rizzo, so who knows what MLB ultimately does?

The internet, as it is wont to do, had varying opinions about the slide.  Cubs fans generally think it was a clean slide, and so do most of the Cubs.  Pretty much every non-Cubs fan suggests that it was dirty or at least an illegal slide.  Hedges WAS right on top of the plate, and the smallest distance between two points on flat ground is a straight line, so I can’t really fault Rizzo for heading straight in.  If Rizzo had deviated, he would have been out even more easily, and that’s one of those plays where the runner has a decision to make about whether to try to avoid the tag or go straight in and try to slide under the tag rather than around it.  Again, I do think Rizzo slid late, and that is what’s going to ding him.  At least he has the support of a former teammate:

Although another former teammate wasn’t quite as charitable:

Brett from Bleacher Nation has about as neutral of a Cubs fan take as I guess we can get.  The folks at Deadspin seem to think that Rizzo was in the right, which is the other extreme.  Craig Calcaterra probably has the best take I’ve seen so far:

Based on the replay, it does not seem that Rizzo deviated his path. He took an inside-the-line path for several feet before getting close to Hedges. However, he did not appear to make any effort to touch the plate nor did he make an effort to “slide into the plate in an appropriate manner.” That based on neither his legs nor his butt hitting the dirt first. He really just tried to cross body block Hedges because he knew the ball was beating him home and that Hedges was in a good position to tag him out, which of course he did.

While Rizzo was under no duty to go for the back of the plate here, it’s worth noting that he obviously had a path to it and could’ve taken it if he wanted to. While not required to do so, his not doing so could have certainly informed the umpire’s judgment, as the rule requires the ump to exercise, if he was forced to make a ruling on whether Rizzo did, in fact, violate the rule. Since Hedges held on to the ball, of course, the point was moot. He was out either way.

While Craig does muse about the possibility of a suspension, keep in mind that it would set a bit of a precedent:

What is of more immediate concern while MLB figures themselves out is what kind of schoolyard justice will be meted out for the rest of the series, and perhaps into the future…

You never read the comments if you know what’s good for you, and the fact that this is a verified account affiliated with a major league club is very bad optics.  I imagine Rizzo will just take his hit and go to first base since he gets hit by pitches all the time anyway, but hopefully it won’t come to that.  And if he does get the plunking, hopefully it ends right there.  But you never know with athletes in the heat of competition.

Feel free to leave your comments!

UPDATE 1:55 PM: Per Ken Rosenthal, MLB ruled that Rizzo did a bad slide:

Major League Baseball, according to sources, informed both clubs Tuesday that Rizzo was in violation of Rule 7.13, which the sport introduced in 2014 to protect catchers from such collisions.

Joe Torre, MLB’s chief baseball officer, will decide whether discipline for Rizzo is appropriate, but no player has been suspended for violating Rule 7.13.

This is more of an official update and doesn’t really change what I said, unless it results in a fine or suspension for Rizzo, which again is unprecedented.

UPDATE 3:15 PM: Seems the Padres will take the high road here…

UPDATE 3:48 PM: And this should be over, now that the Padres aren’t likely to throw at Rizzo and the league has made their decision…

Hopefully next time a play at the plate occurs, Rizzo will know how to slide without controversy.


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About Rice Cube

Rice Cube is the executive vice president of snark at World Series Dreaming. He loves all things Cubs, with notable exceptions (specifically, the part of Cubs fandom that pisses him off). Follow on Twitter at cubicsnarkonia

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