By Ken Reed
Get this: Major League Baseball admitted that the Chicago Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo violated the home-plate collision rule when he clearly deviated from his path home to plow over San Diego Padres’ catcher Austin Hedges — knocking Hedges out of the game in the process. But at the same time they said they would not penalize Rizzo in any way.
What? Why even have the rule then?
The play occurred on Monday night. Rizzo was on third and tagged on a fly ball to center field. He took off for home on the catch. Hedges was not blocking the plate. He gave Rizzo plenty of the plate to slide into. But when Hedges caught the ball, Rizzo lowered his shoulder and took a couple steps to his left to run over Hedges in an obvious attempt to jar the ball loose. This is exactly the type of dangerous play that led Major League Baseball to disallow catchers from blocking home plate and runners from plowing over catchers. Rizzo could have easily done a hook slide to the outside of the plate to try and score.
Unless runners are penalized for actions like Rizzo’s, MLB’s home-plate safety rule will have no teeth and the safety of players will be compromised.
Padres’ Executive Chairman Ron Fowler is upset with MLB’s chief baseball officer, Joe Torre, who made the decision not to discipline Rizzo.
“Obviously, Rizzo clearly violated the rule,” Fowler said.
“It was probably the most egregious violation since the rule went in, and to do that with no repercussions, I think, is pure BS. I told baseball that.”
Fortunately, for the Cubs, Padres and Major League Baseball in general, Padres manager Andy Green chose not to retaliate for Rizzo’s cheap shot by beaning a Cubs hitter.
“The reality is, when you throw at a guy in retaliation, you’re really not protecting anybody. That’s a simple fact. This is what I’ve always asked: What do you accomplish by hitting somebody?” Green said on The Mighty 1090 radio show. “You accomplish nothing. I think it’s absolutely asinine to even take that approach.”
Bravo Mr. Green. Now there’s one guy that’s discarded the old-school baseball mentality and is thinking coherently about this incident. It certainly isn’t Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who is a progressive thinker on a lot of baseball topics but not this one.
“What he (Rizzo) did was right, absolutely right,” said Maddon. “There’s nothing wrong with that, and nobody can tell me differently.”
Well, you’re wrong Joe. The play was a cheap shot and it was unsafe. Rizzo should receive a significant penalty for his actions.
But Torre chose not to penalize Rizzo and until he grows a spine, he shouldn’t be in charge of making decisions on rules involving player safety.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of FansPrint
- League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.