In a pretty big step, Major League Baseball (MLB) and the players' union have decided to ban rolling block slides to break up potential double plays. This comes after the LA Dodgers' Chase Utley broke NY Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada's leg in last year's playoffs.
Text Of Rule On Takeout Slides
RULE 6.01(j) -- SLIDING TO BASES ON DOUBLE PLAY ATTEMPTS
If a runner does not engage in a bona fide slide, and initiates (or attempts to make) contact with the fielder for the purpose of breaking up a double play, he should be called for interference under this Rule 6.01. A "bona fide slide'' for purposes of Rule 6.01 occurs when the runner:
(1) begins his slide (i.e., makes contact with the ground) before reaching the base;
(2) is able and attempts to reach the base with his hand or foot;
(3) is able and attempts to remain on the base (except home plate) after completion of the slide; and
(4) slides within reach of the base without changing his pathway for the purpose of initiating contact with a fielder.
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Under the change, a runner must make a "bona fide slide" which is defined as making contact with the ground before the base, being able to reach the base with a hand or foot and remain on it, and sliding within reach of the base without changing pathways to get into contact with a fielder.
According to ESPN, an umpire can call both the runner and batter out for a violation.
"It will definitely help keep guys healthy for sure," said Utley, who has been suspended for the first two games of the season for his slide in the playoffs, pending an appeal.
Utley doesn't think that he was the only catalyst for the change:
"From my understanding, I think we have been trying to work on this for a few years now, trying to get on the same page, and now obviously we are," Utley said. "I don't think that one instance really determined anything.
"It will be a little bit of an adjustment, not only for middle infielders, but also the base runners and probably the umpires as well to try to all get on the same page. Like with the home plate rule and the batter's box rule, it kind of took a little time to get comfortable with it. Eventually we will get there. We'll have a chance in spring training to work on it and it should be better."
Mets manager Terry Collins was not enthralled when he was informed that the neighborhood play would now be reviewable.
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"We're making a slide rule that keeps you on the bag," Collins said. "You've got to be near the bag. And now we're making a decision on the neighborhood play that you've got to stay on the bag. You know what that's going to mean? Someone is going to get their clocks cleaned."