St. Louis Cardinals: MLB has an OBLIGATION to punish Anthony Rizzo

michaeldavidmiles
Jun 19, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; San Diego Padres catcher Austin Hedges tumbles after tagging out Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo at home plate in the sixth inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 19, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; San Diego Padres catcher Austin Hedges tumbles after tagging out Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo at home plate in the sixth inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports /
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The St. Louis Cardinals received appropriate punishment for hacking the Astros but now MLB has decided to admit the breaking of one of its rules yet will not enforce punishment. This is a travesty.

The St. Louis Cardinals suffered through the organization’s punishment for hacking into the Astros database during this season’s MLB Draft. The effects of this punishment may or may not surface in seasons to come.

Another way of looking at this, however, is that GM Mozeliak may have been so distracted by the cacophony that he failed to make appropriate changes THIS season resulting in the team we see nightly.

Enter into the discussion a play at the plate in Monday night’s game between the media-darling Chicago Cubs and the often-forgotten San Diego Padres. In the play in question, dazzling star Anthony Rizzo (who, by the way, I think is a really good player– or rather who I thought was a really good player) was clearly thrown out at the plate but initiated contact with Padres catcher Austin Hedges.

Was the play clean? Was the play dirty? It was debated and debated and debated on Tuesday. The play was reviewed by MLB (Joe Torre) and this is what really infuriates me.

Before I get into it all, here’s the rule under consideration:

"A runner attempting to score may not deviate from his direct pathway to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher (or other player defending home plate), or otherwise initiate an avoidable collision. (Rule 6.01 (7.13))"

These questions surfaced:

(1) Did Rizzo have a clear path to the plate; in other words, did Hedges break a different rule by blocking the plate without the ball in hand?

Let me address the second portion here first. No, Hedges did NOT block the plate. In fact he received the ball in front of the plate- the correct way to play the catching position- and provided Rizzo a clear path to the back side of the plate.

Rizzo had a clear path to the plate and should have maintained his original trajectory to the plate which would have brought him sliding around the left side of the plate toward the back corner. By the way, had he actually done this he might have been able to avoid the tag (maybe with a 10 percent chance of being safe).

(2) Did Rizzo deviate from his pathway to the plate?

Let me be clear, Rizzo deviated from his path. I have watched the video multiple times and conclude that Rizzo did, in fact, move toward Hedges as he approached. This to me indicates that he violated the rule.

Just looking at the video, the blind eye can see that Rizzo’s path was bringing him along the painted line with a pathway toward the back-left side of the plate. In the final three strides toward the plate, Anthony changes direction and goes toward the front side of the plate, leaving the painted base line, and approaching Hedges.

Here’s where I start to get angry. After debating the issue, Joe Torre announced that no punishment would befall Anthony Rizzo. WHAT!? Have a look:

Again I find myself screaming at the news! Oh, and there’s something else that really p*ssed me off about this incident, Joe Maddon‘s response:

"“Absolutely love it. That’s part of the game. If the catcher’s in the way, you hit him. Very simple.”"

WHAT?! What kind of bullsh*t is this?!

Here’s why I’m so mad. I’m not out for blood here but I don’t understand the need for a rule if the said rule is going to arbitrarily enforced. Rules and laws are simple and effective when they eliminate subjectivity.

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This rule, which has some gray area for subjectivity in the “deviation” clause (used here for lack of better terminology), but nothing else in my opinion. In other words, once Torre has assessed whether a player- Rizzo- deviated or failed to deviate, then punishment should commence appropriately.

In this case then, Torre assessed that Rizzo DID deviate his path thus violating the rule. In that line of thinking then, a punishment should be enforced.

I do agree with Torre, somewhat, that it appears that Rizzo was not barrelling for blood, but I do not agree with the no punishment decision. As it stood even yesterday, Rizzo remained in the starting lineup as the “face of the Cubs” while Hedges nursed his injuries on the bench.

Bottom line is this, to me: if MLB fails to enforce its rules, then why have them? And if MLB fails to enforce its rules, then why shouldn’t everyone break them? I am not a fan of either of these questions as I never want to see players injured. Can you image the ire we St. Louis Cardinals fans would raise if Yadier Molina were bowled over like this?

What do you think? I’m sure you have an opinion. Let me hear about it on Twitter and thanks for reading.

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