You may remember earlier in the baseball season, I ran a piece on the changes being made in the game of baseball over the past few years. After the events that occurred during Game 1 of the National League Championship Series, it’s time for another round of ranting.
The controversy arose in the bottom of the eighth inning Saturday night when the Dodgers’ Justin Turner singled and Charlie Culberson attempted to score from second base. Cubs’ catcher Willson Contreras did exactly what he was trained to do as a little boy, he blocked home plate. The Dodgers runner was originally called out, but after a 2 minute and 45 second review, Culberson was called safe. The ruling was that Contreras didn’t afford a “lane” for Culberson.
Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras seemingly tags out Los Angeles Dodgers Charlie Culberson at the plate in the eighth inning of Game 1 of the National League Championship Series. The call was overturned after a review.
Chicago manager Joe Maddon was livid following the reversal and came out to argue with home plate umpire Lance Barksdale. Maddon would be ejected from the game for arguing the call.
The new age of plate collision management in Major League Baseball arose from an incident that happened in a game between the then Florida Marlins and San Francisco Giants. On that play, Giants catcher Buster Posey also did what he learned as a boy, HE blocked the plate. Scott Cousins, the Marlins runner did what HE was trained to do in such situations, he attempted to bowl over the San Francisco catcher to reach home plate. As a result of the collision, Posey broke his leg and didn’t return the rest of the year.
Marlins’ Scott Cousins bowls over Giants Buster Posey at the plate attempting to score 5/25/11. Posey suffered a broken leg as a result of the play.
Posey’s injury, unfortunate as it was, came from a textbook play. As a result of that collision, Major League Baseball changed a long-standing and exciting part of the game. Beginning in 2012, a catcher can no longer seal off access to home plate for the base-runner. He must provide a lane for him to score.
Getting back to the play on Saturday night, Contreras did exactly what Posey did back in 2011. He also did the same thing as any other catcher would have done prior to 2012. This is a natural reaction for anyone playing the position. Both Joe Madden and pitcher John Lackey were incensed by the reversal of the call.
As I wrote back in May, why are we changing a rule that affects the very way ball-players are taught to play the game at a young age? Injuries, unfortunate as they are, are part of any sport. Players get injured from time to time. Nobody got hurt, nor was there a collision at the plate on Saturday. Contreras defended his territory and tagged the runner, that should’ve been the end of the story.
Dodgers Chase Utley takes out New York Mets’ shortstop Reuben Tejada during the 2015 National League Division Series.
Two years ago this same subject came up during the National League Division Series between the Dodgers and New York Mets. Los Angeles’ Chase Utley took out Mets shortstop Reuben Tejada at second base to break up a double play. This play resulted in Tejada suffering a broken leg. Utley was accused of playing dirty. This writer believes he was guilty of playing hard-nosed baseball.
In reflecting on the softening of the rules in Major League Baseball, as well as in other sports, I wonder about some things. Are we finished with the by-gone era of the likes of Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal, and Don Drysdale and their in your face inside pitching? Consider what would happen if a batter crowded the plate today and the Hall of Fame Cardinals hurler played chin music? Would he be warned for defending his part of the field? Would the likes of Pete Rose be allowed to run over Bud Harrelson or Ray Fosse? Would Harrelson be fined for fighting back?
It’s a new era in baseball of avoiding contact and counting pitches. Maybe I’m too old school to get it.