This is probably going to be an unpopular opinion, but here goes … the umpires got the ruling right on Jose Bautista‘s slide into second base. As disheartening as it was to see the Blue Jays lose a ball game in that very fashion, it was the right call.
A lot of fans, writers and even the players themselves are still kind of confused as to what even happened at the end of that game; how a fielder’s choice and an error could suddenly be ruled a double play. I myself have difficulty wrapping my head around it.
R.A. Dickey’s reaction below encapsulates the thoughts and feelings of many a Blue Jays fan.
As this is a brand new rule for the 2016 season, there are going to be some growing pains. Players that have slid hard into second base their entire career suddenly had to alter how these plays have been ingrained in their heads. As much practice as they received in Spring Training and all the drills they performed, sometimes instincts take over.
And that’s what happened with Jose Bautista; he didn’t necessarily do anything wrong, he just did what he always has. The difference now is the rules have changed, and what would’ve just been an ordinary out last season has now changed to a game-ending double play.
It was all a simple mistake … one Jose Bautista surely won’t make again.
And the award for the worst way to lose a game goes to … pic.twitter.com/WeUncJfASq
— Ian Hunter (@BlueJayHunter) April 6, 2016
As soon as I saw the replay of Bautista’s slide, I had a bad feeling the call was going to be overturned. Then after watching it about a half a dozen more times, I noticed Jose didn’t exactly try not to make contact with Logan Forsythe’s. In fact, you could argue his contact was intentional.
Bautista seemed preoccupied with keeping his hands down, and perhaps the natural motion of his slide just so happened to make his left hand make contact with Forsythe’s leg. But by the looks of the replay, it doesn’t look that way at all.
Not to mention, Bautista also slid past the bag, with is another no-no. The combination of both those things seem like conclusive evidence to overturn the original call. And that’s a big point here; during a replay, there has to be conclusive evidence to overturn the call, otherwise the original ruling stands.
According to @MLBReplays, the rule that the Rays challenged was 6.01(j) which reads as follows:
(j) (7.14) 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
The term “bona fide slide” is one that comes with some grey area, but this tells me the call was overturned because first and foremost, Jose Bautista didn’t attempt to remain in the base. Secondly, he initiated contact with the fielder (however minor it was), and that’s why Bautista got nailed.
I get the vitriol towards MLB and the umpiring crew because they are typically worthy of this level of scorn. Lord also knows the Blue Jays have been privy to some egregious calls over the years … but this was not one of them.
Like I said, there are going to be some growing pains with this brand new slide rule, as there were with the catcher inference calls at home plate a few years back, and even the institution of replays and challenges last year.
Jose Bautista and the Toronto Blue Jays just so happened to put this rule to the test a mere three games into the regular season. It was bound to happen sooner or later, and unfortunately the Blue Jays were the guinea pigs in one of the first incidences of this brand new rule.
That was one of the worst ways to lose a ball game, but ultimately … it’s just one game. At this rate, the Blue Jays are still on pace to win 108 games this year.
Image via Will Vragovic/The Tampa Bay Times via AP