Mr. Manfred’s Neighborhood Play

I already posted about the new takeout slide rule yesterday. Ruben Tejada Rule. Chase Utley Rule. We can call it whatever the hell we want. As I said yesterday, I see it as nothing but a pointless rebranding of the already muddied takeout slide rules. And we are going to spend 162 games debating if the runner made an “attempt” to touch the bag and an “attempt” to hold on to the bag. It is ridiculous, and we are in arguably the same position as last October.

But today, all I am reading about is how the masses are appalled by the fact that the league published the new slide rule while simultaneously making the existing “neighborhood play” reviewable. The neighborhood play allows an infielder to record a force out at second base during a double play without technically touching the bag. It historically existed to protect shortstops and second basemen from takeout slides. And now that it can be reviewed by instant replay, it essentially means the league will enforce the actual rule of staying on the bag to record a force out. As a result of this change, Terry Collins said, “Someone is going to get their clocks cleaned.”

MLB continues to blow my mind with their myriad of unwritten rules like the neighborhood play. So we literally just made a play reviewable that doesn’t technically even exist by rule. And it only existed in the first place because the league refused to make a real rule addressing takeout slides. It literally exists because runners consistently crush middle infielders on takeout slides, and in order to give the infielders a chance to survive, everyone agreed off the record that they don’t have to touch the bag while turning a double play. You know what else we could have done all this time? Maybe release a “no crushing the middle infielder on takeout slides” rule. Does that work? Has anyone in MLB ever heard of writing down real rules that make sense?

And you know the best part? This new slide rule does not ban takeout slides at all. In fact, the league has openly talked about how they want them to remain a part of the game.

Let us recap: 1) Real rules exist that say fielders need to stay on the bag to record a force out. 2) Unwritten “neighborhood play” rule exists and says the opposite. 3) Now instant replay can be used to ensure the unwritten neighborhood play rule will no longer be enforced. 4) Slide rules now exist that define a legal slide and an illegal “roll block”. 5) The league does not want to discourage legal slides to break up a double play.

It is so simple everyone. Now, the league just wants middle infielders to stay on the bag, and they only want double plays to be broken up by runners that legally “take the fielder out” of the play. Get it?

As I said yesterday, the rule deliberation is pointless because the only way this works is if the league bans takeout slides through enforcement. They just have to consistently call the runners out. If they consistently side with the infielder then the practice will die out. And once the actual rule is established by virtue of the calls made during the games, hopefully somebody grabs a pen and writes it down.

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