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MLB likely to change approach to takeout slides

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

MLB is likely to change its rules to prevent takeout slides, and the play in which Jung-Ho Kang was injured earlier this season is part of the reason why, ESPN's Buster Olney writes.

The Kang injury was probably a tipping point in the conversation, and the events of Game 2 of the Mets-Dodgers National League Division Series on Saturday night almost certainly pushed the situation across the goal line, when LA's Chase Utley essentially ended shortstop Ruben Tejada's season.

You can watch the Utley/Tejada play here. Olney writes that many players don't want the rules to change, but that executives think runners should be required to slide toward the bag when trying to break up double plays, rather than sliding toward infielders. There might be some subjectivity in how such a rule would be implemented, but that sounds like a common-sense adjustment to me. MLB already plans to use that adjustment in the Arizona Fall League, suggesting that it's considering implementing the more widely and wants to test it out first.

Here's hoping that MLB does end up making the change. While I'm hard-pressed to say Chris Coghlan did anything wrong given the way the game is currently called, the play in which Kang was injured was unnecessary. In fact, Coghlan's slide was probably already technically illegal. From MLB's Rule 6.05(m):

A batter is out when ...

preceding runner shall, in the umpire’s judgment, intentionally interfere with a fielder who is attempting to catch a thrown ball or to throw a ball in an attempt to complete any play:

Rule 6.05(m) Comment: The objective of this rule is to penalize the offensive team for deliberate, unwarranted, unsportsmanlike action by the runner in leaving the baseline for the obvious purpose of crashing the pivot man on a double play, rather than trying to reach the base. Obviously this is an umpire’s judgment play.

All MLB would have to do is start actually calling runners out based on a rule that already exists, and there would be many fewer dangerous slides.