Baseball is a game that’s been played for hundreds of years. Over time, it’s undergone some change. That’s how life works: time passes, things change, and we adapt. But boy if you’re a baseball player or manager, that last part sure doesn’t seem to be the case.
People are out here getting upset at Bryce Harper for wearing a silly hat and at others for flipping their bats, but when someone like John Gibbons makes casually sexist comments? We’re told to lighten up. We’re told the world has become too sensitive, that sports are going down a path that’s leading to a�?the wussification of America.a�? We’re told to stop whining by folks who are, in fact, whining themselves.
Which brings me to the point. Major League Baseball implemented a new sliding rule ahead of the 2016 season, and it’s already come into play twice. In both cases, the contest ended as a result of a player breaking the rule. This past Tuesday, JosA� Bautista was guilty of grabbing the opponent’s leg. Friday night, Colby Rasmus didn’t make an attempt to stay on second base when JosA� Altuve grounded out.
By the letter of the rule, each player was correctly judged to have broken it:
a�?Under the new Rule 6.01(j), a runner will have to make a “bona fide slide,” which is defined as making contact with the ground before reaching the base, being able to and attempting to reach the base with a hand or foot, being able to and attempting to remain on the base at the completion of the slide (except at home plate) and not changing his path for the purpose of initiating contact with a fielder.a�?
A couple things: the rule is brand new to this year, so obviously there’s going to be an adjustment period. Secondly, it’s the first damn week of the season; are we being serious here? Instead, here’s what happened: managers whined; players whined; former playersa��who often get these types of jobs because they’re just thata��also whined. But hey, we’ve got to get these calls right, gosh darn it. We can’t let MLB continue to get away with this.
Or, you know, players can follow the rules. Crazy, right?
Look, baseball isn’t a contact sport. It’s not. If you think it should be, you’re watching the wrong sport. If you want to watch a contact sport, the NFL isn’t going anywhere. If you want to watch athletes go full force and beat the ever-livin’ out of one another, mixed martial arts can be viewed at one’s convenience.
Honestly, the cynic in me wants this new slide rule to impact and end one game per day for the rest of the season. Obviously, that’s not going to happen. In a few of weeks, this slide rule will be in our rear-view mirrors. It’ll come up from time to time; all rules do, but we’ll shrug it off. It won’t end games or cause lossesa��the players will, and already have, by not following the rule. Sooner than later, they’ll remedy that. They’ll adjust.
So instead of being up in arms about a new rulea��one that was agreed upon by both MLB and the MLB Players Associationa��enjoy Trevor Story’s brilliant start to his career. Enjoy Madison Bumgarner hitting a second home run off of Clayton Kershaw. Enjoy Robinson CanA?’s early resurgence. Or Jean Segura’s. Or Starlin Castro’s.
Stop whining, and enjoy baseball.