Do you remember the Toronto Blue Jays first loss of the season in 2016? Well I sure do, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.
It was the third game of the Toronto Blue Jays season, and we were in the series up 2-0 to the Tampa Bay Rays. If you were’t aware, this was the first and only time the Jays were in first place until the end of July.
We headed to the bottom of the ninth, down 3-2. With the bases loaded for Edwin Encarnacion, he hit a grounder to third and on an error while trying to attempt a double play, the Blue Jays (thought) they scored 2 runs, and were leading 4-3. Kevin Cash, the Rays manager asked for a replay review to check for any evidence of an illegal slide at second base/interference. THE CALL WAS OVERTURNED. Meaning, the two runs never scored and the double play was automatic, as Jose Bautista was called interfering with the second base man to try and break up the double play. This resulted in a throwing error to first base that would have score the tying and go-ahead runs. Since the call was overturned and the double play was called, the game ended then and there, and Tampa Bay won 3-2, there first win of the regular season.
Had this been any other season in the MLB, the two runs would have scored indefinitely. The only reason the runs didn’t score was because of the newest rule that MLB had added for the 2015 season known as the Chase Utley Rule. The exact rule (6.01(j)) consists of: “If, in the judgment of the umpire, a base runner willfully and deliberately interferes with a batted ball or a fielder in the act of fielding a batted ball with the obvious intent to break up a double play, the ball is dead. The umpire shall call the runner out for interference and also call out the batter-runner because of the action of his teammate.”
Many people are claiming that this rule ruins the roughness of baseball. In the early days, you would see many illegal slides trying to break up a double play when you needed a run most, and that was just the game of baseball as we knew it. Now a days, the game seems to be getting safer and softer, limiting the injuries and oddities of baseball. Could this be ruining the game of baseball? Could there be more rules limiting how baseball is played today?
I think that the reason I will never forget this game is because it reminded me of how the season ended last season. Our season ended on an inning ending double play in ALCS game six against the Kansas City Royals, with Dalton Pompey on third base, needing just to score that runner to tie the game. The double play was completed and the Royals were headed to the World Series (which they eventually won in six games).
Since the season has now ended, we can look at many games that this rule has affected. While the Blue Jays were the first, there were many more and I’m sure they will be many more to come in 2017.
(EDIT: Yesterday, I was officially “inducted” into the Baseball Bloggers Alliance! I am very excited to be apart of it, and feel very honoured. Thanks to all of you for making this happen!)