Friday, February 26, 2016

The Chase Utley Rule

I'm pretty sure Frank Robinson and George Brett won't approve, but baseball finally acted to protect pivot men from baserunners.

All it took was a broken leg on national TV. 

Chase Utley's playoff game-deciding cheap shot was the catalyst for Rule 6.01(j). The rule is pretty simple: A baserunner breaking up the double play has to slide, he has to touch the base, and he has to make an effort to stay on the base. He also can't swerve out of his pathway.

The thing is, 6.01(j) is only there because the umpires long ago decided to abdicate their responsibility. Rule 6.05(m) should have sufficed, but umpires never make that call. Perhaps taking the play out of the "umpire's judgment" will work.

This is good change. Less good: replay is being expanded to include the "neighborhood play," which it didn't cover last year on the basis that it would force pivot men to hang around the base longer and lead to more second base collisions. I suppose the rule-makers figure adding 6.01(j) will take care of that. What we're going to get is a repeat of what has happened with slides: Plays that were never questioned before replay will be now, with frame-by-frame review of whether the fielder's foot was in contact with the base while he handled the ball.

Joe Posnanski was probably right last year when he said replay should be only at full speed. If the call isn't clearly wrong at full speed, let it stand.

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