MLB Week in Review (June 16-22)

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The MLB is one of the few leagues where changing the rules to try to improve the game is encouraged especially in this new era of Rob Manfred.

He enjoys changing the rules as the league continues to try to adjust and appeal to the younger crowd.

There are other reasons for rule changes in the league though as player safety is always a concern for these leagues.

Of course, changing rules are sometimes veiled as for safety reasons but often are meant to increase excitement in some way.

That can be said for the rule change that came down before Manfred took office as the MBL decided to reduce the contact in a non-contact sport.

One of the most exciting plays in the game and also one of the very few times that violence was actually encouraged was the charge of home plate from third base.

The old rule made it so that the runner could run over the catcher to get to home if the catcher chose to stand in front of him.

If the catcher dropped the ball because of the ensuing collision the runner was safe when he touched home plate.

If the catcher held onto the ball the runner was out so runners ran right through catchers looking to dislodge the ball first and touch the base second.

It was an exciting play and in an era where violence tends to do well in sports, NFL is one of the most violent sports in the world and also one of the biggest, the entire stadium was sure to get on their feet to see the catcher in the train tracks.

That all changed in 2011 when Buster Posey was put right in the train tracks as Florida’s Scott Cousins was looking to score.

The collision between the two was a jarring example of exactly what can happen when this play goes wrong.

Posey had his leg bent backwards and broke his fibula as well as tearing multiple ligaments in his ankle.

The collision ended the season for Posey who at the time was one of the brightest young stars in the game having just won Rookie of the Year in 2010.

With one of the best players on the team gone for the season, the Giants could not repeat as champions and many called for a change.

When something happens to a star in any sport the reaction is pretty swift as the demand for change comes quickly and loudly.

The MLB made their decision largely because it was Posey that was hurt during the play as if Cousins had taken the worst of it nothing would have likely been done.

But it was Posey that was down and out and the league wanted to make a change to prevent something like that from happening.

So came the “Posey Rule” that outlawed the practice of running into the catcher to dislodge the ball by requiring runners to stay on their path to the base and not deviate to initiate contact.

The Posey rule came into full focus this week when Anthony Rizzo tagged up at third and began running home.baseball-sidebar

The throw from the outfield was easily in time and as Rizzo slid into home he ran right into San Diego Padres catcher Austin Hedges.

Nobody was hurt but there was controversy in that Rizzo didn’t really seem to stick on his path in what looked like to some that he intentionally went after the catcher.

That is clearly against the Posey rule but if it happened by mistake then nobody is really at fault.

It has launched a debate though as the more old school thinkers, and Cubs fans, believe it is just part of the game as if the catcher is in the way it is still legal to hit him.

Others believe that it was clear that Rizzo was not on his line and that he left his line to run into the catcher and try to dislodge the ball.

For them, it is a matter of keeping the catcher safe and in their eyes what Rizzo did is the exact opposite of what the rule was put in place for.

Despite the rule change, the two sides of baseball will constantly debate as old school and new school are constantly in a battle.

Some want the game to stay the same and others want to make it better with new rules that make things safer and faster.

The debate will never be over and for the MBL the “Posey Rule” is a perfect firecracker to launch debates around the league.

It was a topic of debate when it came in and it remains a point of contention years later, although it does only seem to come up when something like this happens.

It is more evidence that the league is committed to changing the game for any number of reasons but that the old baseball fans are not going along willingly.

Whether or not Rizzo did deviate from his path to hit the catcher it is still a play that gets a reaction from every side of the debate.

 

Extra Innings

Schwarber Heading Down

The Chicago Cubs might just be suffering from the dreaded title hangover as they are not having the best season. A part of that is Kyle Schwarber’s struggles as the young slugger is hitting .171 with a .378 slugging percentage. So the Cubs are sending him to Triple-A where he can “clear his head” according to the organisation. It is not a strange move as it has been done before but how he comes back will determine the future for the World Series hero.

Puig at it Again

He had been so good so far this year as Yasiel Puig had stayed out of the headlines and seemed to be focusing on the game. Then last week he flipped off fans and this week he was back to his confident ways. Against the Mets, the young Cuban hit a big home run and made sure everyone knew about it as he admired the hit for a while before starting his home run trot. The Mets took offence to it and had some words in even more evidence that the intensity during a game and passion seems to be frowned upon and seen as disrespectful.

Another Sign of Disrespect?

In yet another example of the two worlds of the game colliding some people took offence to the loss of a perfect game. It wasn’t that the perfect game was lost but rather how it was lost as Justin Verlander was dealing against the Mariners until Jarrod Dyson lined up a bunt and got on base. It is another unwritten rule that a bunt is almost like a chicken way of breaking up the perfect game. The problem is that Dyson’s bunt started a comeback and did what they wanted as he did whatever it took to get the offence going.

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