Tag Archives: Matt Holliday

So You Think it was a “Good Clean Play” …..

“Courtesy of HoopIndiana”

I’ve got this thing about umpires.  My dream is to write a really great comprehensive book about past and present umpires, their challenges and what they mean to the game.   So last night’s NLCS game between the Cards and Giants gave me some new fodder.   Here’s my thoughts on that Matt Holliday attack on Marco Scutaro at 2nd Base in the 1st inning and subsequent play:

1.  THIS WAS NOT A SLIDE.  All the commentary from the pundits, coaches, teammates and Holliday himself describe the play as a slide ~ a “late” slide, but a slide nonetheless.  That’s crap.  A baseball slide by definition means hitting the ground face or feet first and it just didn’t happen here.  Look closely at the first part of the video above.  Matt Holliday made an intentional leep with both feet firmly aimed at Scutaro with, by his own admission, intent to disable him to keep him from making a play.  There was no slide.  He turned himself full force into a  6’4″, 235# human projectile aimed directly at Scutaro’s 5’10” 185# frame with intent to disable.

2.  HOLLIDAY’S RESPONSE.   “You’re trying to get to the second baseman and obviously trying to knock him down so he can’t turn a double play.  As long as you’re in the baseline, it’s within the rules.”   And he’s right.  Rules state that a runner can take out a fielder as long as the runner is close enough to be in contact with second base while doing so. 

3.   HOLLIDAY HAD NO INTENTION OF SLIDING.  Holliday’s “regret” that he didn’t start the slide earlier really doesn’t hold water.  He had no intention of sliding to begin with.  He held back on the slide intentionally, waiting for precision timing to do exactly what he did. 

4.  TOUGH GUY REPUTATION.   It’s acknowledged that Matt Holliday is well  known for his tough defensive plays.  Tim McCarver stated in his  post game coverage that Matt Holliday is one of the “toughest sliders” in the National League.   Tough slider huh.  What’s that compared to a non-tough slider?   Maybe a little unethical, dirty, bush league, not too classy?    

5.  MLB RULES AND THE UMPIRE’S ROLE IN THE GAME.  Well, okay then.  MLB Rules allow a runner to take out a fielder as long as the runner is close enough to be in contact with second base while doing so (my translation).  But remember, he was no longer a runner.  And his “slide-that-was-not-a slide” was late ….. so late as to injure a player and enrage the fans.  So where’s the umpire’s role in this scenario? 

“I’m Thinking, I’m Thinking”

After the play, the umpires convened near second base to discuss, as in “what should we do if the Giants pitcher decides to throw a retaliatory pitch, like “at the head” of Holliday when he comes up to bat”?   And what if it did happen and that retaliatory pitch permanently disabled or,  heaven forbid, killed the batter?  I’m not trying to be over-sensational here but this could happen and it has happened, granted a long time ago, but still.  

6.  MLB RULE 9.01(d) GIVES UMPIRES BLANKET AUTHORITY.  It states that each umpire has authority to disqualify any player … for unsportsmanlike conduct or language and to eject such disqualified player from the playing field.  How often has that happened?  I mean, really.  Oh sure, someone swears at the umpire and he’s outta there in a New York Minute.  But a good clean play like this one?   Not a chance.  This would be comparable to football’s unnecessary roughness penalty or the unsportsmanlike conduct or more appropriately the “late hit” penalties which are designed to prevent debilitating injuries.  But, of course, you don’t see that in baseball, even though the umpire has full authority to make that call.  

So here’s a challenge to the Major League Baseball Umpire’s Association.  ( I issued the same challenge to them back on February 23, 2012, “……Getting the Umpire Out of His Comfort Zone” but for some reason I’ve never heard back from them.

” ….. this is something that falls on the  Major League Umpires Association.  They’re the only ones who can get this violent aspect of the game  under control and they don’t need any rule changes to do it.   If they’d start bouncing players out of the game when they resort to these retaliatory pitches and the unnecessary violence at the plate and elsewhere, the players would get the message and it would stop.  The question is, will they?  The answer is,  probably not.  They’d have to move  a tad out of their comfort zone and who the heck wants to do that?”

Note:  I wrote this originally with an inference that Halliday was “out” before he made his “slide”.  In reality, the tag  on the base had been made, but the  umpire had not yet called the play and we all know you’re not out until you’re called out.   I’ve since deleted the reference. 


A Light in the Eyes of a Giant ~ No Laughing Matter.

During the seventh inning of a Cardinals-Giants game on Monday,  a fan was arrested for shining a laser beam at Giants’ pitcher, Shane Loux .  I was watching the game on the tube and the announcers talked about the delay, but no one really knew what was going on, and eventually the game resumed.  As it turns out, the fan was a 17-year-old teenager who was with  some friends in an expensive private suite  along the first base line and maybe thought he was just having a little fun. 

“Craig Calcaterra’s Cat?”

My story’s not about the 17-year-old mis-guided laser-pointing fan.  It’s about a follow-up blog written by Craig Calcaterra on NBC’s HardBall.  The post shows a supposedly comical picture of a cat wanting to catch that “red dot”.  In the article Calcaterra says he sure hopes it’s not illegal to use those things or else he’ll have way less fun with his cat, making light of what could have been a really serious situation. 

My immediate concern was for the pitcher ~ that he could be blinded by the laser and throw a wild pitch,  injuring the batter, catcher or umpire.  When you consider the speed of some of those pitches, upwards to 100 mph, you have a potentially deady combination.  And that can be true even with perfect conditions, which doesn’t include having a laser flashed in your eye.  

But according to a Cardinals’ security spokesman there are other situations that need to be considered.  With laser-pointing, there is no way to distinguish a prank from a gunman aiming a laser-equipped firearm.  Joe Walsh, Director of Cardinals’ Security puts it this way, “… when you go into what’s been going on in the country right now, it’s totally irresponsible to pretend you’ve got laser sights on somebody”. 

The details of the incident are linked here, in a well-written article for the Post-Dispatch by Christine Byers of STL Today.com, and no matter how you want to spin the story, it’s no laughing matter.  

I sure don’t want Calcaterra to miss out on any fun with his cat, but hope he has the common sense to leave those things at home when he ventures out to the ballpark and other public places.