It doesn’t matter now, but Ichiro shoulda been called out last night

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It was fun as anything to watch, and because the Orioles won the game it ended up not mattering, but we can all agree that Ichiro should have been called out on that crazy Matrix/parkour play from the first inning last night, right?

In case you were under a rock last night:

Rule 7.08 of the official rules of Major League Baseball states:

Any runner is out when—
(a) (1) He runs more than three feet away from his base path to avoid being tagged
unless his action is to avoid interference with a fielder fielding a batted ball. A
runner’s base path is established when the tag attempt occurs and is a straight
line from the runner to the base he is attempting to reach safely . . .

At the outset, note that it does not say THE base  path. It says HIS base path.  This doesn’t change the analysis because he was still way beyond that, but it is worth noting that the white line between home and third is not relevant here. A batter’s base path has to do with the angle he’s taking toward home. Like, say, if he had rounded third big and was heading straight home on an angle from the grass just foul of the line.  The idea is that he can’t deviate more than three feet from that line — the line on which he is running — not the chalk line.

But really, it doesn’t matter. Because by the time Ichiro started his juking and jiving, he was in the back of the catcher’s box behind the plate. Which is EIGHT FEET from the plate. There are fat cat fans with seats closer to the plate than Ichiro was last night.

Why wasn’t he called out? Probably because no one is ever called out on those sorts of plays. Same reason why catchers are never called for interference when they block the plate even if they don’t have the ball yet despite the rules saying they can’t do that.  It’s just never been done. Ask Greg Maddux, who was an expert at getting calls far away from the plate even when he wasn’t pitching.

Again, no biggie because it ended up not mattering, but it certainly seems that Ichiro shoulda been called out.

Cardinals encourage players not to hide injuries

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In Major League Baseball, players are routinely pressured to play through injury and pain. Sometimes it’s just a minor ache, and sometimes it’s a very serious injury. The pressure comes from everywhere: the players themselves, their peers, coaches, front offices, media, and fans. Players who develop a reputation for landing on the disabled list are described as “soft” and “fragile.” Players who battle through the pain get talked about as “gritty” and “dedicated.”

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals are trying to encourage their players to be more honest about their health. The culture surrounding this is tough to change, but manager Mike Matheny wants his players to come to him if “anything that is off.” As Goold notes, Alex Reyes and Matt Bowman revealed they were, in Bowman’s words, not “entirely forthcoming.” Carlos Martinez said he pitched tentatively because he was “scared” of re-injuring himself. Matheny also called pitcher Michael Wacha “a great liar” when talking about his arm health.

Matt Carpenter has also played through injury and takes pride in it. He’s an example of the old mentality the club is trying to pierce through. Caarpenter said, “I’m a believer in if you’re getting paid to do a job and you’re capable of doing the job — even if it’s 85 percent of your best — I feel you have the obligation to be out there. That is the mentality I’ve always used. I could have very easily, at times last year, sat on the [disabled list], but I felt like I could still go out and do my job.”

Goold points out that players approach dealing with health issues differently depending on where they’re at in their careers. A young player who just got called up has pressure to stay in the big leagues and appear in games, so he may not want to address a health issue. A player who has already secured a multi-year contract may have less pressure on him and thus may be more willing to come to the trainer’s room.

I’ve long believed that player health will be the next arena in which front offices will separate themselves from the pack. Analytics had been that battleground for a while, but with every club now having an analytics department in some capacity, front offices will have to find value in new ways. Limiting the amount of time that players miss due to injury would be a significant boost for a team and it will start with players being forthcoming about what’s bothering them rather than trying to fight through pain.