Rozner: Chicago Cubs manager right to question baseball's rule

  • Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon, here being thrown out of Saturday's game by umpire Mike Winters, says he'll continue to voice his disagreement with some of baseball's rules.

    Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon, here being thrown out of Saturday's game by umpire Mike Winters, says he'll continue to voice his disagreement with some of baseball's rules. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 10/16/2017 7:51 PM

You knew it wasn't going to turn out well for Joe Maddon when he questioned the baseball intelligentsia.

There's simply no disagreeing with any form of replay, analytics or matters on which the national baseball media has made its determination.

 

Maddon has opinions and, well, independent thought is forbidden these days.

If you don't follow in lockstep with the prevailing groupthink, you will be shouted down and smothered in a holy tsunami of passive-aggressive, elitist insults.

So Maddon doesn't like some of baseball's new rules, including the one that cost his team a run when Willson Contreras made a brilliant baseball play Saturday night.

Must he like it because others say he has to? Must he conform in every way? Must he believe what they believe?

There is much about Maddon that baffles on a daily basis, but it is refreshing in this climate to hear him say what he believes -- especially when he knows he'll take a beating for it.

"I saw a great baseball play," Maddon said of the play at the plate in Game 1. "I saw (Kyle) Schwarber come in on a grounded ball, use his feet perfectly, make a low, great throw to the plate.

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"Perfect skip-hop, great play by Contreras. His technique was absolutely, 100-percent perfect."

By the letter of the law, the umpires on the field got it wrong and the replay officials got it right.

"I could not disagree more with the interpretation of that," Maddon said. "However, I will defend the umpires. The umpires did everything according to what they've been told.

"But from day one, I have totally disagreed with the content of that rule. Anybody that's played major-league or even minor-league baseball will agree with me 100 percent on that."

Maybe not everyone, but most current and ex-players very much dislike rules that have attempted to legislate contact out of the game.

It's impossible. Sports have contact and sometimes players get hurt. Will they outlaw the fastball the next time a batter gets hit in the head?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

No one wants to see anyone get hurt. But it happens sometimes in baseball, just as it does in every sport.

"It's tantamount to the soda tax in Chicago, for me," Maddon said. "Suddenly, we're taxing soda. My point is all rules or laws created aren't necessarily good ones. That's my point."

Actually, the Cook County soda tax has been repealed, but Maddon made his point nonetheless.

Still, politics? Be careful where you tread, Joe, lest the thought police tread on you.

"The slide by Jon Jay (at second base) that was questioned in Washington, the fact that the slide could be questioned bothers me," Maddon said, continuing his roll. "Listen, I'm speaking on behalf of all the guys that have played this game.

"I'm speaking on behalf of all the umpires. It puts them in an impossible situation.

"Neither play was egregious in regards to trying to hurt anybody."

As is the case with every replay rule, there are unintended consequences.

"If you want to interpret the situation where somebody's intentionally trying to hurt somebody, I think that's obvious," Maddon said. "But those (two plays) are just good baseball plays without any injury intent whatsoever.

"I know I'm going to get in a lot of trouble for saying all this. But like I said, I know a lot of dudes that have played this game.

"I was not fortunate enough to play on the major-league level, but I was a catcher involved in a lot of collisions, and that was a well-executed play that we got penalized for.

"Sometimes laws and rules are made that aren't necessarily good ones, and in my opinion those are both bad."

Credit baseball officials with trying to do the right thing, with trying to keep very expensive players on the field and away from needless injury.

Makes sense.

But understand that once you go down that road, rules will cost a team in a big situation when the intent of the rule had nothing to do with the actual play.

"Play the game. Just play the game," Maddon said. "Listen, I could easily not say anything, absolutely. I could easily just acquiesce.

"But if I'm doing that, I'm going against what I believe in, and I'm not going to do that."

So rare. And commendable.

brozner@dailyherald.com

• Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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