In an effort to reduce injuries (especially concussions), Major League Baseball banned home plate collisions a few seasons ago. Well, they didn’t quite ban them completely — more on that in a second — but they definitely wanted them to basically stop.
Anthony Rizzo isn’t interested in baseball’s boring new rules, though.
During Monday night’s game against the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field, Rizzo attempted to tag up on a shallow fly ball to center field off the bat of Kris Bryant. Padres outfielder Matt Szczur made a strong throw and the ball beat Rizzo to the plate by a few steps. Rather than try to slide around the catcher Austin Hedges, Rizzo barreled into Hedges and sent him flying four or five feet backwards. For the record, Hedges held on to the ball and Rizzo was out.
Here’s where the drama starts.
Hedges was very slow to get up and eventually had to leave the game with what the team called it “bruised hip.” Afterwards, several Padres were upset about the play, but no one was more peeved than manager Andy Green, who called it a “cheap shot.”
More Andy Green: pic.twitter.com/uv7R9bxvz1
— Dennis Lin (@sdutdennislin) June 20, 2017
There’s a bit of grey area here, since home plate collisions aren’t technically banned completely. As long as the runner doesn’t deviate from his path to the plate for the purpose of initiating contact AND the catcher is blocking the plate, then it’s allowed. Obviously, Rizzo felt the play was legal when asked about it after the game.
Rizzo on home-plate collision: “I’ve talked to a lot of umpires about this rule. My understanding is: If they have the ball, it’s game on."
— Patrick Mooney (@CSNMooney) June 20, 2017
Hedges said he wanted to watch a replay before commenting on the play further, but did mention that he thought he “gave [Rizzo] the plate” to slide into.
Hands up if you’re betting that Rizzo gets a fastball up towards his chin when the Cubs and Padres resume their series on Tuesday. It’s a pretty safe gamble.