Breaking News Bar
updated: 5/17/2017 8:49 PM

Imrem: New rules have made baseball even softer

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Aledmys Diaz, top, leaps into the air as Chicago Cubs' Ian Happ, bottom, slides in to break up a double play in the fifth inning of a baseball game, Saturday, May 13, 2017, in St. Louis. The Cubs' Anthony Rizzo was called out at first due to slide interference by Happ,

    St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Aledmys Diaz, top, leaps into the air as Chicago Cubs' Ian Happ, bottom, slides in to break up a double play in the fifth inning of a baseball game, Saturday, May 13, 2017, in St. Louis. The Cubs' Anthony Rizzo was called out at first due to slide interference by Happ,

 
 

It was just another throwaway line in a 162-game baseball season full of them.

Chicago Cubs pitcher Jon Lester basically said recently that with the new rules baseball has become soft.

So what else is new? Isn't that like saying the Vatican is full of Catholics? Don't hockey players already refer to baseball players as the softies of summer?

Baseball always has been the kinder, gentler sport compared to football, hockey and even basketball.

That's the charm. The game is more about skill than power, even if chicks do still dig the longball.

Lester's remark came last weekend after Cubs manager Joe Maddon objected to Ian Happ being called for an improper slide at St. Louis.

The dust has had a few days to settle over the controversy, giving us ample time to take a clear look at the issue.

The conclusion is, "You go, Joe!" Along with, "You, too, Jonny!"

Maddon proceeded to propose -- sarcastically or seriously -- rule changes for the safety of players.

A couple of the suggestions sounded reasonable, like protecting batters in the on-deck circle, while others seemed playful.

Back to Happ: The rookie's oversliding of second base to disrupt the pivot man's attempt to execute a double-play relay resulted in an automatic double play. Even with no throw the runner at first base was out by rule.

The rule is dumb. Turning any professional team sport into patty-cake/kissy-face is dumb.

Baserunners have been menacing middle infielders for a century and only a few of either have wound up in traction.

Is it evil to miss the good old days of way back a couple of years when a baserunner could slide hard into a shortstop? To miss ballpark-rattling collisions at home plate between locomotive runners and mountainside catchers? To miss bench-clearning brawls after pitchers throw beanballs at batters?

OK, scratch beanballs. The head is off limits. Concussions and their long-term impact on athletes are serious business.

To me, though, all body parts below the brain are fair game.

Physical jeopardy is a part of sports. It's one of their appealing aspects. Otherwise they all might as well be chess.

Cerebral competition does have a place. Spelling bees, geography bees, sports writing bees … all are fun until a journalist pulls a muscle on the way to the postgame pizza.

Big-time pro athletes who make tens of millions of dollars should be required to put their bodies at risk as well as their minds to work.

Even placing concussions aside, the NFL had to and still has to institute rules that protect players from each other and in some cases from themselves.

The thing about football, though, is that they can pass all the rules they want and bones still will break and ligaments still will tear.

Hockey always will be risky even if goons are outlawed. So will basketball as long as 6-footers challenge 7-footers at the hoop.

By comparison, yes, baseball is a game played by softies.

It was back when a baserunner could barrel into second base to prevent a double play and an irresistible force could collide with an immovable object at the plate.

Now, Jon Lester is correct: Subtracting physical duress from baseball makes it even softer.

Bad idea I say from behind the safety of my computer.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.
    Winner - 2015 Best Website
    Illinois Press Association
    Illinois Press Association