Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Chase Utley Rule Already Exists

On Friday Daniel wrote about the Chase Utley Rule. This, of course, refers to the play the other night where New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada suffered a broken leg thanks to Chase Utley sliding into him while trying to break up a double play.

This was clearly a legal play *rolls eyes*.

Ultey was suspended for two games, which he is now appealing. This has caused some commotion among Major League Baseball, as they must now come up with a way to avoid such a thing happening in the future.

Daniel mentioned that MLB must protect the players, and I totally agree. While it's bad enough that the Mets will have to try and win during the postseason without Tejada, it would be worse if the same thing happened to Ben Zobrist of the Royals, who is more valuable to the Royals than Tejada is to the Mets. And could you imagine the outrage if something like that had happened to Derek Jeter during the any of the Yankees' postseason runs. You would never hear the end of it. EVER.

So putting a rule in place to keep this from happening again is not some insignificant thing.

But that's the problem... there has been a rule in place, which could have helped avoid Tejada's injury and so many others in the past, which is rarely enforced. It's in Rule 6.01, part (a) (7.09)...
Any batter or runner who has just been put out, or any 
runner who has just scored, hinders or impedes any following 

play being made on a runner. Such runner shall be 

declared out for the interference of his teammate;
When was the last time you saw a runner going from first to second slide outside of the basepath and into a fielder trying to complete a double play, and having it lead to the batter-runner being called out as well?

"I believe it was in the year 'NEVER'."

This isn't a case of Major League Baseball needing to implement a new rule. This is a case of a rule, already being in place, being made a point of emphasis.

I'm a basketball official. Every year a new rule book comes out, and in it some rules... which have been there for years... are made points of emphasis, meaning we are to work to enforce that rule more so than in the past.

That's all that MLB needs to do next season. Make sure the rule is enforced, so fewer runners will go beyond the basepath to try and break up a double play. If the batter-runner is automatically going to be called out, meaning there's no chance of him beating the throw, things like we saw happen to Tejada are less likely.

Note that I said "fewer runners", along with "less likely". I did that on purpose, because there are still going to be instances where runners are going to slide outside of the basepath in an attempt to break up a double play. It could be because they know the batter-runner is slow, so completing the double play is easy. Or that runner could just get caught up in the moment, and will try too hard in that situation to make a play. Heck, it could be yet another "brain fart" by that player.

The point is that plays in which a fielder could get hurt when a runner attempts to break up a double play will still happen. For such a matter a new rule is not necessary.

The rule book also says that "the league president is the league official charged with enforcing these rules, fining or suspending any player". There are only two rules in which automatic suspensions are required, and that goes for a pitcher throwing at the head of a batter or a player defacing a ball (both are ten games). For any other rule it is up to the league president on the amount of the fine or length of the suspension.

So again, there's no need for a rule change, unless the league wants to come up with an automatic suspension or fine for this infraction. However, I believe that is unnecessary. 

Like they do for me in basketball, just make the "breaking up the double play" thing a point of emphasis next season with MLB umpires. If the league wants to write a memo to teams and players, stating that there will be more fines and/or suspensions for this rule infraction, then that would be wonderful. 

Just keep in mind that doing that does not require dozens of people in MLB to approve anything. No hearings are needed. The rule is already in the book, and that same rule book has already given the league president the power necessary to hand down fines and/or suspensions.

By the way, when I say "league president", I'm not just talking about Rob Manfred. Manfred is actually the commissioner of baseball. As for the "league president", I refer you to this part of the rule book...
With respect to the Major Leagues, the functions of the League President pursuant to these Rules shall be carried out by the designees of the Commissioner of Baseball. The Commissioner may designate different officials to carry out different functions of a League President pursuant to these Rules.
"Where did he find this alleged 'rule book'?" 

It's time for Major League Baseball to take some responsibility and do the right thing before something like this happens again.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)