Of the millions of things I loathe about the Cardinals, and there really may be millions, it’s that every series with them, there’s always a time when some weird rule or call helps decide the game. It’s like they always know the rules better than everyone else. That doesn’t mean they’re always wrong. It just seems to happen every time. I’m amazed they haven’t got a Cub called out because of pine tar to high up on the bat.
The Cubs didn’t lose today because Ian Happ was called out for over-sliding second base. It didn’t help, but it would have helped more if Anthony Rizzo could have come up with solid contact for the first time in what seems like weeks. It’s a shitty way to have what could have been a game-turning rally killed, there’s no way around that.
But I really don’t have a problem with the rule.
You can still make a double-play harder, or even break it up, without trying roll-block a middle infielder’s knee. Fuck, even the NFL doesn’t allow you to dive at a defenseless QB’s knees when his attention is elsewhere. We saw it in the very first inning when Dexter Fowler slid into the bag and flipped Tommy La Stella, even though he was still able to get the second out. Would you feel differently if Javy Baez one day down the line gets a leg broken by a bad slide? Addison Russell? I’m guessing you would.
Maybe there’s another way to legislate it, because I don’t think Happ’s slide was egregiously late. What they’re trying to get rid of is something like Chase Utley’s where he didn’t even hit the ground until the base, so his full force is hitting someone’s knee. But then that’s more judgement we’re putting in the ump’s hands, and that rarely ends well. You’ll see quite a fair amount of arguments on that method too, and judgement calls aren’t likely to be allowed to be reviewed.
Consistency would be nice. I’m not even sure the ump would have known to call it if the Cardinals weren’t calling for it (and rightly so). Maybe that’s the frustration.
-Of course, it’s a different ballgame too if Pedro Strop could have stranded Lester’s runner and then the guy who drove that one in. This is something of the market correction of Lester, who had a ridiculously high left-on-base percentage last year. Of course, Strop didn’t let those runs in because the percentages are simply correcting. He hung a slider and misplaced a fastball. Sucks, but Strop has overall been good. Weird shit just happens to him in that park I guess.
-I don’t want to get too greedy. The Cubs were missing Bryant, Zobrist, Russell thanks to niggling injuries, as well as Heyward being on the DL. Not that any of those guys save Bryant is hitting. What was left still had a mightily struggling Rizzo, Contreras, and Schwarber, bench players starting, and a two kids barely old enough to drink, at least in baseball terms. At least we got a sneak preview of what the Ian Happ experience could look like. At least before he gets traded for Chris Archer.
-I usually admire Lester’s inability to give in. He’s going to go for his spots, even when he’s not getting the calls. But there are days when he’s not getting the calls that you just can’t be that stubborn. The zone is what it is. And as you’ll see from this plot, the zone was just not flexible instead of being too tight: