Umpires Should Allow Double-Play Slides to Remain Hard Despite Recent Injuries to Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Hanley Ramirez

Umpires Should Allow Double-Play Slides to Remain Hard Despite Recent Injuries to Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Hanley Ramirez Baseball is a game of inches. As for where those inches are measured, the possibilities are limitless, but one can assume it has nothing to do with the physicality – -or lack thereof — of the sport known as America’s Pastime.

Or does it?

In the opening week of the 2011 regular season, there have been a few uncharacteristic plays at the second base bag. Hanley Ramirez suffered a minor leg injury when Bill Hall came in hard on Friday night in Houston. Minnesota’s Tsuyoshi Nishioka wasn’t as lucky last Thursday after Nick Swisher came in hard at Yankee Stadium as he suffered a fractured fibula and will be out 4-6 weeks.

Over the weekend, Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis slid hard into second, and because he went outside the baseline (and directly at Derek Jeter), Dustin Pedroia, who scored on the fielder’s choice, was forced to return to third base.

Should any of those three runners had slid a few inches left or right, this blog wouldn’t exist. Game of inches, you say? Indeed it is.

There’s the notion that MLB umps will be on the lookout for such vicious slides and enforce penalties accordingly more so than ever. The parents of a young middle infielder are likely applauding the idea of tightening up the baserunner’s leash while the purists of the sport are simply shaking their heads in disapproval.

If you’re interested in tracking me down for my take, I’ll be the guy shaking my head, too.

“Back in the day,” as it’s said, chin music and hard slides were an everyday part of the game like saves and steroids are in today’s game. If your high-stirruped ankle got injured turning a double play because of a hard slide, it’s because you either didn’t get out of the way in time or the one sliding was a true master at his craft. One thing’s for sure: 999 times out of 1,000, that hard slide was nothing more than a great play with no ill will.

Not every ball player is stupid enough to pull off an A-Rod Elbow Drop at the keystone sack. But for those who know how to pull off a hard slide certainly understand that it’s part of the game. It was when Ty Cobb was looking for a safe call and it should remain to be now.

As seen in the Swisher-Nishioka video, Swisher pats Nishioka in sympathy as if to say (I assume Swisher talks in bro-speak): “sorry bro, you were in the wrong spot at wrong time.”

Just a couple days after the Hall-Hanley slide, the Marlins shortstop told the media that he has no ill will toward Hall.

Why? Because that’s baseball. What’s that famous Bull Durham quote? “You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains. Sometimes you have to take out the middle infielder with a hard slide to win the game.”

Were these slides dirty or were they nothing more than good, hard-nosed baseball plays? Share your thoughts below.

Screengrabs courtesy of MLB.com

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