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Dodgers-Rangers get into shoving match over home plate collision

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As we mentioned in this morning’s recaps, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Texas Rangers got into a benches-clearing dust-up after Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp attempted to barrel over Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos at the plate in the bottom of the third inning of last night’s game in Los Angeles.

Kemp was attempting to score from second base on Kiké Hernandez’s two-out single, when the relay throw home to Chirinos went up the line, causing Chirinos to go after it and into Kemp’s path. Faced with a choice of sliding into home or barreling into Chirinos in an effort to dislodge the ball, Kemp chose the latter. They collided, Chirinos held on and when they got up, he shoved Kemp, Kemp shoved back and all hell broke loose:

As we discussed earlier this morning, this play is one of those which demonstrates the imperfections of the slide/plate-blocking rules. Imperfections which I do not believe Major League Baseball can really do much about, as not all baseball plays can be accounted for with pre-set rules. At least not to everyone’s satisfaction.

As umpire Bill Welke explained after the game, Kemp would’ve been safe if he had slid, even if he didn’t make it to the plate past Chirinos, because he would be (a) attempting a legal slide; while (b) a catcher illegally blocked his progress. However, as Kemp also noted after the game, sliding into a catcher blocking the plate is the sort of thing that can get a guy hurt, just as he was hurt back in 2013, requiring surgery on his ankle following an awkward slide. I am pretty certain two that option three — simply stop or run out of the base line to avoid a collision — would’ve resulted in him being out too, because the rule requires an attempted slide to trigger it. Obviously, of course, the entire set of rules surrounding such things are about protecting the catcher, so barreling into him like Kemp did is not great either.

So, no, not sure what everyone was supposed to do here. Maybe Kemp should’ve made the weakest sort of slide possible? One that was totally not calculated to contact Chirinos, but which would still satisfy the “make and effort to slide” thing? I dunno.

Either way, it’s a good illustration of how not all written rules are clear cut. I think it’s also an illustration of the need for umpires to have some judgment in such matters but which they no longer have on plays like this. Major League Baseball has been pretty adamant about removing judgment calls over the past several years, and here I think it cost the Dodgers a run.

Jim Crane thought the heat over sign-stealing would blow over by spring training

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The Astros’ sign-stealing story broke in November, a steady drumbeat of coverage of it lasted through December and into January, when Rob Manfred’s report came out about it. The report was damning and, in its wake, Houston’s manager and general manger were both suspended and then fired.

After that a steady stream of media reports came out which not only made the whole affair seem even worse than Manfred’s report suggested, but which also suggested that, on some level, Major League Baseball had bungled it all and it was even worse than it had first seemed.

Rather than Manfred and the Astros putting this all behind them, the story grew. As it grew, both the Red Sox and Mets fired their managers and, in a few isolated media appearances, Astros’ players seemed ill-prepared for questions on it all. Once spring training began the Astros made even worse public appearances and, for the past week and change, each day has given us a new player or three angrily speaking out about how mad they are at the Astros and how poorly they’ve handled all of this.

Why have they handled it so poorly? As always, look to poor leadership:

Guess not.

In other news, Crane was — and I am not making this up — recently named the Houston Sports Executive of the Year. An award he has totally, totally earned, right?