Major League Baseball has spoken, and Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo was in violation of the Buster Posey Rule when he collided with San Diego Padres catcher Austin Hedges during Monday’s game.
That’s all MLB said, though. Despite the ruling, the league has decided not to fine or suspend Rizzo for the play.
That’s actually in line with past rulings concerning similar plays. No player has been suspended for a home-plate collision since the league instituted an updated version of the rule in 2014. Despite some calls from Padres fans, Rizzo will not be the first.
Rizzo told Cubs beat writers that he spoke with MLB’s Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre about the play. Torre told Rizzo his actions violated the rule, but that the league would not fine or suspend him. Rizzo told Chicago media he had a “good conversation” with Torre, and reiterated that he did not intend to injure Hedges. Hedges had to leave Monday’s game with a thigh injury. He’s expected to miss a few days, but hasn’t been put on the disabled list.
With the league failing to act, it’s reasonable to think the Padres might take things into their own hands during Tuesday’s game. Baseball is, after all, often governed by its unwritten rules in cases like this. Manager Andy Green was unhappy Monday night, saying Rizzo’s tackle was “egregious” and calling it a “cheap shot.”
That retaliation may not come. Green appeared on a radio show in San Diego prior to Tuesday’s game and made it clear that he’s not a big fan of hitting players in an attempt to even the score.
— Dennis Lin (@sdutdennislin) June 20, 2017
Those comments from Green make it seem like the matter is closed. Despite that, a player could opt to go rogue and hit Rizzo anyway. That type of vigilante justice seems to be what sparked the brawl between Hunter Strickland and Bryce Harper in May.
If Rizzo were to get hit during Tuesday’s game, it would certainly look suspicious. It is, however, worth noting that Rizzo has been hit by quite a few pitches during his career. He led baseball in 2015, getting plunked 30 times. He once again leads the way in 2017, with 12 hit by pitches.
The lack of action by the league is sure to upset those who thought Hedges deserved some type of justice. While it’s reasonable that the league didn’t want to make an example of Rizzo here, his situation highlights one of the major problems with the rule.
The collision rule is designed to punish players who make “egregious” contact with the catcher by ruling them out. When the player is already out, like Rizzo was here, there’s no other punishment for that player. He doesn’t lose much by bowling into Hedges and hoping he drops the ball. In a worst-case scenario, Rizzo still gets called out. He doesn’t get fined or suspended. In a best-case scenario, maybe the ump rules Hedges blocked the plate and Rizzo scores a run for the Cubs. It’s worth the risk in Rizzo’s mind because the ruling is based on the umpire’s judgment.
But by leaving the rule open to interpretation, the league is just asking for another star catcher to get hurt, or a hothead player or manager to take matters into their own hands. It doesn’t look like that will happen here, as cooler heads seem to have prevailed. That may not be the case next time.
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