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MLB Making Progress In Attempt To Change Rules Regarding Sliding Into Second Base

Injuries following a collision at second base haven’t really been an epidemic by any means in Major League Baseball, but all it takes is one example to realize that the rules need to be changed.

Really, I think it was a matter of timing. There have been a handful of players in recent years who suffered a similar fate to what the Mets‘ Ruben Tejada did when the Dodgers‘ Chase Utley upended the infielder in Game 2 of the 2015 NLDS, fracturing his fibula as a result of the hard slide. But this particular incident was on national television during a playoff game, instead of a regular season game between two small market teams in the second week of May, which magnified the concern for players’ safety. As a result of the Tejada/Utley incident, MLB and the players union are making progress towards changing the rule about sliding into second base.

Within the rule alterations being discussed, there is a focus on ensuring that sliding runners either touch the base or make an effort to touch the base.

Sources said that in the union’s internal discussions, players made it clear they had been taught since they first began playing baseball to go into second base with the intent of breaking up double-play attempts. Although the union wants to improve safety for middle infielders, it does not want to eliminate players’ aggressiveness on slides or the ability to break up a double play.

However, there is a desire on both sides to eliminate slides on which a baserunner goes beyond the effort to reach second to make contact with middle infielders. That is what happened with Tejada, as Chase Utley was nowhere near the base when he crashed into Tejada’s leg. Utley was given a two-game suspension by Major League Baseball for that play, a punishment that has been appealed.

It sounds like this new rule won’t be a drastic change from what we’re used to seeing. The rule, as it stands right now, makes it so that the runner has to be close enough to touch the base in order for the slide to be legal. Now, it seems like they’re trying to propose a new rule that will make it so that the runner will have to actually make an attempt to touch the base in some way, shape or form.

Will it actually work? I’m not so sure, because assholes will be assholes. Take this Brett Lawrie slide for example. Say this happens in 2016 under the new rule. Lawrie slides hard into second base, injures Alcides Escobar’s knee, and then what do you think he would say to the umpire? “Oh, well I touched second base. What’s the big deal?” It’s going to be difficult for umpires to police the situation, because there are already loopholes to go in with a dirty slide, while still abiding by the new rule. Again, not that’s it’s a frequent problem, but it’s still a problem.

Injuries will still happen under this new rule, but at least we’ll be able to avoid the blatant attempts to injure, like the Utley slide.