How To Get To Second Base

Utley Slide

(Image Credit USAToday.com)

“The law of unintended consequences, often cited but rarely defined, is that actions of people – and especially of government – always have effects that are unanticipated or unintended. Economists and other social scientists have heeded its power for centuries; for just as long politicians and popular opinion have largely ignored it.”Rob Norton, Econlib.org

According to most accounts the first, most thorough analysis of the concept of unintended consequences was conducted in 1936 by an American sociologist named Robert K. Merton. He identified five types best described off-the-top as true ignorance, flat-out error, willful ignorance, values and self-defeating predictions (self-fulfilling prophecies).

Last October I wrote a post warning Major League Baseball might be inclined to change the way all of baseball is played because of but one play – Chase Utley’s “slide” into second base to break up a double play in the MLB post-season that resulted in a broken leg for Ruben Tejada. I feared they would overreact and do something stupid…surely introducing unintended consequences.

I was wrong.

They did multiple things stupid…just as they did when they took away the ability of catchers to block the plate and runners trying to dislodge a baseball from said catchers a couple of years ago.

For some reason baseball – accused for a century of not changing anything – is now seemingly willing to change just about everything.

It might have been acceptable if TPTB (The Powers That Be) just left it at clarifying what a “bona fide attempt to reach and remain on the base” is…which is in part what they did. But they also now have made the very attempt of breaking up a double play a play subject to video review.

I can’t wait for all the side-by-side shots of plays where interference is called in games…and when it is not.

But we’re just getting started here.

TPTB in MLB essentially eliminated the “neighborhood play,” a fancy way of saying a middle infielder didn’t have to have their foot on second base while in possession of the ball to get an out call before attempting a double play. Middle infielders now have to have the ball and their foot on second base to record an out. Umpires have always given the middle infielder “credit” when a runner is approaching and not enforced making a “true out.” Look, it wasn’t my idea this became OK but it is how the game has been played for…ever. The rule book was “called out” at second base a long time ago. That doesn’t make it right…but it has been deemed right for as long as everyone in the sport now has been in the sport.

Geez, try to find a majority of umpires still, in 2016, who have the same strike zone. That ambiguity has seemed to be OK with everyone for…ever. (I just thought I’d throw that in…)

Oh…and it’s just piling on that TPTB have also now made the elimination of the “neighborhood play” a play subject to video review.

So let’s review…

We had a dirty slide at second base during an attempt for a double play occur in a playoff game last season and as a result…the definition of a legitimate slide has been expanded…those slides are now subject to a stoppage of play and a video review…middle infielders who are supposedly now being protected from illegal slides now have to keep a foot planted on the base with the ball to be credited for an out before even attempting a double play…those outs are now subject to a stoppage of play and a video review.

“We’re making a slide rule that keeps you on the bag. You’ve got to be near the bag. And now we’re making a decision on the neighborhood play that you’ve got to stay on the bag. You know what that’s going to mean? Someone is going to get their clocks cleaned.”Terry Collins, New York Mets Manager

“It’s hard, man. Change is hard. We’ve been playing this game for a long time under a certain set of rules. And these changes just feel awkward. I kind of feel like I knew how to play the game. And now we have to change that.” – Chase Headley, New York Yankees Third Baseman

In the interest of fairness there certainly have been those in baseball quoted either taking a wait-and-see approach or have already come out in full support of the changes stating anything that enhances the safety of players can’t be a bad thing…safety comes first, etc. I’m all for safety too. Really I am.

But as I said when the play-at-the-plate changes were first made all baseball had to do was enforce the rules they already had in place. These changes are even more extraordinary and certainly were not vetted properly.

I should add at the same time these changes were announced TPTB at MLB laughingly created two ways to speed up games by limiting coaching visit times on the mound while also shortening break times between innings. Great ideas both…but those sliding/double play replays will negate that effort.

No, I suspect they were simply motivated to make a token effort to cover all their bases regarding the law of unintended consequences…when they simple-mindedly chose to rewrite the law…on how to get to second base.

 

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About sportsattitudes

I'm Bruce. Born, raised and still outside the City of Brotherly Love. Managed (so far) to visit a dozen of our United States and Canada (twice). Addicted from birth to Television/Movies/Sports. Took three years of French and got credit for two of 'em.
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24 Responses to How To Get To Second Base

  1. Interesting post! Hubby says there’s a more fun way to get to second base, lol!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Laura says:

    I think MLB started down the wrong path when they started instant replay. Now there is no end in sight to their madness!

    Liked by 1 person

    • So true Laura. How many times in sports that use replay do we clearly see what should be called but isn’t …even with evidence. A lot of folks including me agree with you baseball was the one sport that once they went down “replay-road” they wouldn’t know when to stop.

      Like

  3. Like you, Bruce, I don’t agree with changing the rules to the extreme. However, after what I saw with what happened to Buster Posey at home plate that night—I was there—I feel there needs to be changes to certain rules—to some degree—but as long as they are within reason. By the way, (I do feel we need a universal strike zone. I hate these arbitrary strike zones invented by umpires. I’ve despised that one for years. And yet, I love tradition, too. That does seem to be one, but I’m complex that way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul, that had to be a sick feeling seeing Buster’s injury in person. I know these sports want to keep their superstars on the field. I just think if someone is going to play recklessly having a rule isn’t going to stop them…but the rule may alter the very fabric of the sport itself if not carefully applied. The strike zones remain arbitrary. If you don’t do anything with that having replay elsewhere in baseball seems silly.

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  4. You have a philosophical perspective on sports! Nice post!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. jlfatgcs says:

    My thoughts exactly!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Belinda O says:

    I can’t imagine the meetings that followed that injury. All the politics involved in reaching a decision about changing the rules…I can kind of understand this overreaction, it’s kowtowing to a multitude of people and heaven knows what other behind the scenes nonsense we don’t want to know about.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. George says:

    Great title and last line…:)
    I agree with you, Bruce but I consider myself a baseball purest and prefer the game be played the way it’s always been played, though I realize that may not be reasonable.
    Baseball is trying to keep up with the other sports in terms of time, action and star power on the field. I’ve always believed baseball is the purest sport because you didn’t need physical size or speed to be great. But these powers seem intent on overreacting to every situation the media blows up for the fan. I appreciate player safety but this isn’t the same as football where every play is a car wreck. This is simply playing the game… and in every game, on every play, in any sport, there is risk of injury.
    It’ll be interesting to see if the umpires actually enforce this rule as the season progresses.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah George, you’ve nailed it on the head. Enforcement. How many times have we seen rules enacted that somehow get ignored after the hubbub dies down. I completely agree with your observations here and greatly appreciate your noting the title and finish line “line.”

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  8. SportsChump says:

    Baseball? Do multiple things stupid? Did they just throw Bud Selig back in office?

    Personally, I’ve never understood all the rigmarole about the second base play. It should be cut and dry.

    Did the defensive player touch the base in possession of the baseball. If yes, player out. If no, player safe.

    Injuries are gonna happen and “the neighborhood” has expanded over the years as a result of a) player laziness and b) umpire laziness…. and probably some c) commissioner laziness.

    I say we get back to calling players that are out out and players that are safe safe. I know. Novel concept.

    Oh, and that whole catchers rule? That’s stupid too.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. All this is dizzying and making my head hurt. I vote with SportChump’s logic.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Chained King says:

    added a new dimension to the way I perceive sports. well said.

    Liked by 1 person

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