Apr 6, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa (8) forces out Atlanta Braves right fielder Jason Heyward (22) and throws to first complete a double play during the first inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Now that the umpires are enforcing the “rule” that dropping the ball on the transfer from the glove, even if it is secured in the glove first, is not an out, MLB also needs to outlaw the hard slide into second base to disrupt the potential double play.
The problem was illustrated during the Nationals-Cardinals game on Thursday night. Danny Espinosa was thrown the ball to get the out at second. He was standing on the bag when he caught the ball, had it secured in the glove. John Jay was clearly out before Espinosa went to make the transfer of the ball from glove to throwing hand. Jay slid into second base, after he was already out, to the left of the bag, where Espinosa was moving to make the throw to first. Jay basically ran over Espinosa, knocking him over and dislodging the ball.
Jay was called safe. Espinosa was charged with an error. The outcome of the play was that the runner who caused the problem by sliding after he was already out, and sliding out of the basepath into another player, gets the advantage by playing dirty.
This is nonsense. Baserunners can’t be allowed to make the hard slide into second to disrupt a potential double play anymore. It now has the potential to make the second baseman drop the ball when he gets knocked over by the runner or drop the ball to avoid getting hit by the runner.
Unfortunately, this is a consequence of the ridiculous enforcement of the “rule” that MLB claims has always been a rule which no one believes except MLB. In their desperate attempts to avoid challenges, MLB has created more problems than it has potentially solved. Really, how many times during a game does the drop on a transfer happen? Most of the time it doesn’t happen at all. If it happens once, it is not that hard to tell on replay whether the player had the ball secured before it was dropped on the transfer.
How about changing the rule to : If the player had the ball secured in the glove before putting his bare hand into the glove, then drops it on the transfer, it’s an out. If the player didn’t have possession of the ball before dropping it, it’s an out. The issue is possession and control, and it’s not hard to see on replay what the correct call would be.
Giving baserunners even more incentive to make hard slides into base when they are out in an attempt to dislodge the ball is going to lead to a serious injury. Baserunners can be called out for interference. That is in the rules. The umpires need to enforce the runner interference rule just like they are enforcing the transfer rule.