The popular slogan these days seems to be….”See something, say something “.
Joe Torre, who has seen the game now from every angle possible , took that to heart when he saw a player removed from a World Series game with a broken leg resulting from what virtually everyone agrees was a “dirty play “.
In post game interviews, he did not hesitate…….he openly stated the rule needs to be changed which is not an easy thing to do in baseball, and he set out to make it happen. But it’s becoming clear that the “Chase Utley” rule needs to be tweaked because it ain’t working.
Already, two games have been decided by plays that ended a game in which umpires who appear to be as perplexed by the language of the new rule as everyone else …….applied the rule stringently perhaps erring on the side of caution…….we don’t know because they’re not talking.
But John Gibbons is………In what could be taken as a sexist comment, he suggested that “maybe his Toronto Blue Jays should come out wearing dresses for their next game”……….. But the point he makes is relevant in this context…….
But, maybe everyone needs to calm down a little bit here, including John Gibbons ……..because after all even the Constitution of the United States has been “tweaked ” twenty-six times with amendments. Sometimes, you don’t always get it right the first pass through…….
In the end, baseball will get it right. But the problem is that in the meantime we can’t have games being decided by a rule that ultimately could be changed with new guidelines that negate decisions that were already made on the playing field . So, time is of the essence. We don’t want, for instance, to see a pennant race or wild card decided in October by a game played in April.
The gist of the problem now is that the game is being taken out of the players hands. And as we talked about yesterday (Is Baseball A Racist Sport?), baseball has its own culture and supporting rules of behavior. And when a player flagrantly violates one of those rules, the players take it into their own hands to “discipline” the offending player.
This could be what the players term a “dustup” wherein the pitcher buzzes one under your chin for flipping a bat or showing up another player. Or, it could be a “hard tag” on the offending player trying to steal. Or simply a retaliation by a pitcher who’s seen a teammate buzzed by the opposing pitcher the previous inning. No one will ever say it out loud, but these are all accepted practices in the game and have been for a long time.
So, what needs to be done? Here’s a few thoughts from Joe Girardi who’s been in the game a while…..”That’s (referring to the new rule) where sometimes this gets extremely dangerous because it is a judgment,’’ Girardi said. “It should be black and white and you know exactly what the call is and there is no confusion.’’
He goes on to say……..“I am not so sure middle infielders aren’t in more danger now then they were before, because now they have to stay on the base,’’ Girardi said of the recent rule change that eliminated the phantom foot tag at second on double plays” (New York Post 4/10)
So maybe it’s not as complicated as some are making it out to be. How about this as a gauge……if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and talks like a duck……then it is a duck. Chase Utley’s actions clearly presented himself as a duck………for which he should have been (and was) disciplined for in the middle of a World Series.
In the end, baseball might have overreacted a bit. Maybe this was a reaction to the shenanigans going on in the NFL where a gang war takes place every Sunday………. And maybe it was an attempt to keep baseball “pure” in light of the violence we see on a football field…….if so that can only be seen as another reason for fans of baseball to be proud of the game we have and love.
But in this case, a step back to reason might be prudent………