Monday, October 12, 2015

Slide rules

So Chase Utley has drawn a two-game sitdown for his kamikaze slide that broke Ruben Tejada's leg the other night, and I know what I think about this.

I think the likelihood of Utley actually serving this suspension is roughly comparable to the likelihood of Babe Ruth coming back from the dead to dance the lead in "Swan Lake."

I think the umps blew the call big-time, and that's why the likelihood of Utley serving the suspension is roughly comparable to Babe Ruth, etc., etc., etc.

I think going into a completely different time zone to break up a double play is not a borderline call, because there are explicit rules against it, and the only reason it keeps happening is because the umps refuse to enforce those rules.

I think anyone who watches that play and says it's just "a hard slide" and "old-school baseball" needs to, like the umps, read the rulebook again. I also think that when they say that's how the game has always been played, they need to remember that once upon a time the game was always played by white players only. And that it was always played in broad daylight. And that it was always played barehanded. And that once a team signed you, they owned you for life.  

In other words: Times change. So does the game.

Players are expensive assets now, and owners will do whatever it takes to protect those assets. That's why Pete Rose couldn't run down Ray Fosse today without paying a penalty for it. And it's why Utley got suspended. Times change, the game changes, its priorities change.

John McGraw, bloody-minded hard-liner that he was, would have hated this. He would have waved his arms and spluttered angrily that Utley was suspended for what, in his day, was just baseball.

But you know what?

John McGraw is long dead. And so is his day.

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