Friday, July 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Jones: Baseball should slide back to its old rule

Last week, Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo got into a postgame shouting match with umpire Jim Joyce after the Nats lost when Joyce called a game-ending double play because Washington's Jason Werth used an illegal slide. That same day, Rays manager Kevin Cash asked for a replay because the Angels' Albert Pujols didn't slide at second base on a potential double play when Tampa Bay second baseman Logan Forsythe made a throwing error.

Let's get this straight first: Rizzo is a pinhead for accosting an umpire in the tunnel after a game. You don't do that.

Having said that, you know what would fix all these controversies about slides at second base, as well as plays at home plate? Going back to the old rules.

The game of baseball worked just fine for more than 100 years and then because of two plays, everything was changed.

In last year's playoffs, the Dodgers' Chase Utley broke the leg of the Mets' Ruben Tejada. It was a dirty slide and it should have been a double play.

In 2011, Giants catcher Buster Posey sustained a broken leg when he blocked home plate and was run over by the Marlins' Scott Cousins.

Those two plays sparked major change for baseball. Now you are not allowed to go out of your path to break up a double play at second base, the "neighborhood play'' (where infielders need to just be near the bag for a force out) has been outlawed, catchers cannot block home plate and runner must avoid bowling over catchers.

A big problem is the interpretation of those rules. Frankly, it's tough for even the players to know what's allowed and what's not. Slides that look illegal are not called. And plays at home plate? No one — not even the replay officials — seem to agree on what you can and cannot do.

Certainly, you hate to see anyone get hurt and that's the big reason baseball implemented these rules. But baseball seemed to overreact to just a couple of plays.

Go back to the old rules. Players police themselves if something is dirty and umpires always used pretty good judgment in the past on players that stepped outside the spirit of the rules.

We rarely had a controversy.

Hey, it worked for the past 100 years. It can work for the next 100.

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