My favorite current player in the Majors is Robinson Cano, second baseman for the New York Yankees. I know that isn’t exactly a shock considering he is an all-star and arguably the best at his position, but I’ve always loved Cano. He is a slick fielder who turns the double play better than anyone in baseball because of his strong arm although there are some questions about his range. I know my colleague will argue that Dustin Pedroia is the best second baseman in baseball and he has a very strong case. Either way we agree that two of the top five at the position play in the same division and are two of our favorite players.
Laying that out front I’m going to tell you that I don’t like players sliding hard into second base to break up the double play. I understand gamesmanship and playing hard on every play, but this is baseball. It is not a contact sport. It isn’t even really a sport for tough guys. I mean come on, the “brawls” consist primarily of shoving matches while everyone stands up from the bench and mills around for a while, although I do get amped watching them. Let me even expand this into bowling over the catcher. Injuries are an unfortunate part of sports and leave fans wondering what if about promising players careers. We shouldn’t allow other players to potentially end careers on the off chance they may make one less out. A torn ACL vs. a runner on first? It’s just not worth it.
The rule is that the base runner must be able to reach out and touch the base for it to be a legal slide. If we say that the average ball player is six feet tall, then that means they can slide up to three feet away from the actual bag, assuming that the wingspan is equal to the height. While turning the double play the second baseman understands the risk of the base runner bearing down on him and must work diligently on footwork to maneuver himself out of the way while delivering a strike to the first baseman. Part of the game? Yes, but let’s keep it within reason. I’m writing this because I watched Albert Pujols sliding near second to try to break up the double play and while it wasn’t talked about or discussed, Pujols is a large dude fully capable of blowing out a knee and he was practically on the infield grass. I even found a picture of it for evidence!
I appreciate the effort, competitive spirit and hustle, but not at the expense of a career. Maybe it’s because I have a special affinity for a second baseman. Maybe I’m just not a man’s man. Maybe this practice has been phased out of the game. It used to be you don’t slide in with the spikes up, but nobody does that anymore and I believe it’s time to evolve one more step forward.
Am I overreacting? Let us know what you think via our (@twitter) or leave us a comment.