Chicago Cubs: New sliding rule is a good step in the right direction
Major League Baseball has been active in making its product more appealing to the casual fans. The Chicago Cubs are in a position to benefit greatly from the recent rule changes.
As it happens most years, Major League Baseball announced rule changes for the upcoming season. Agreed upon by MLB and the Players Association, players should be pleased with the focus on safety that has been at the forefront in recent years.
Player safety became a controversial topic in 2014 after a home plate collision caused an injury to All-star Catcher Buster Posey. Although the original version needed some clarification, the league started taking the steps to protect their assets.
After all, in terms of business, baseball players are assets. Teams have placed an incredible amount of investment into the talent these players possess. I sympathize with teams wanting to protect that investment.
Safety concerns reared its ugly head again in 2015. Late in the season, Chicago Cubs’ outfielder Chris Coghlan attempted a takeout slide of Pirate’s infielder Jung Ho Kang. Kang, who was a major catalyst in the Pirate’s lineup, was lost for the year and the Pirates seemed doomed after that.
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If that wasn’t enough, Chase Utley became an instant heal after sliding into New York Mets’ Ruben Tejada. The injury left the Mets without their starting Shortstop and fueled the discussion that has brought us to this point.
Two distinctively different slides that ultimately resulted in the injury of a fellow player. In the case of Coghlan, the slide was considered legal under the rules regarding slides at the time. Despite being outside of the basepath, Coghlan was still within arm’s reach of the bag.
If Coghlan attempted this slide again, he would be in complete violation of the rules because he didn’t make contact with the ground first.
As for the case of Ruben Tejada‘s leg, Utley didn’t even pretend to go for the base. Part of me understands that in a crucial moment of a playoff game, Utley is simply trying to extend the inning to keep his team in it. However, the slide left Tejada in a defenseless position and cost him dearly.
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The confirmation of the slide rule and increased replay for the “neighborhood rule” is a benefit for the Cubs. The athleticism of Addison Russell and the steady hands of Ben Zobrist can be at ease knowing that the rules in place will make it a bit easier to do their jobs.
Baseball isn’t perfect, no sport is. It’s admirable to see the league try to address the issues that are plaguing them for better or for worse. If is means the end of unnecessary injuries, I’m all for trying new things.