Dear Major League Baseball baserunners,
I admire your athletic ability, your grit, and the skills it takes to face (and occasionally succeed against) the best pitchers the sport has to offer. I can only dream of being able to hit a 95 mile per hour fastball out of the infield let alone out of the park. In short, I’m impressed.
However, there’s one thing that bothers me more than just about anything when watching an MLB game, and it involves baserunning. Yeah, I wouldn’t mind seeing a little more hustle running out grounders, and maybe some more stolen bases, but that’s not what this is about. I’ll put it loud and clear, so there’s no beating around the bush:
STOP SLIDING HEADFIRST INTO FIRST BASE!
I say this for two reasons, one logical and one scientific. I’ll start with my favorite: the logical. You slide into second and third base for the specific reason that you can’t overrun those bases like you can first base and home plate. Sliding into those bases gets you to the base quicker while also giving you more contact points to the base as your body slides over the bag.
Compare that to having to slow down and come to a complete stop at second or third base without sliding. Which would you rather do? Slide, of course.
But imagine you could run through those bases. All it would take is a dead sprint at the base – beat the fielder there and you’re safe, simple as that. Still want to slide?
That’s exactly what first base is. You beat the ball/fielder to the bag and you’re safe. So why would you slide?
Let’s move on to the scientific side of this, and to help, I’ll enlist the ESPN Sport Science experts to demonstrate. Take a look:
As you can see just from the screenshot ESPN decided to use, running through the bag gets you to first base quicker than sliding headfirst. The 50 percent deceleration you see occurs when the runner leaves his feet and loses the propulsion from his feet. By running through the base, you get one more step – one more opportunity – to push off your feet and make one more lunge toward first.
So take it, please.
You have likely heard about the most recent inspiration for this: Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer slid into first base in an attempt to beat out a double play in the fourth inning of Game 7 against the San Francisco. After originally being ruled safe, the call was later reversed and Hosmer was doubled up.
The play was so close that it begged the question: would Hosmer have been safe running through the bag? Obviously we’ll never know, but take into account the 10 milliseconds difference (on average – Hosmer looked like he hit the dirt a little too far in front of first, which theoretically would have slowed him down more) that Hosmer lost by sliding, and the Royals’ fourth inning could have been completely different. Who knows, maybe Kansas City would be planning a World Series parade for Friday instead of San Francisco.
In closing, please never forget how much I love your sport, and that now that the World Series is over, we as fans must now wait four excruciatingly long months for the glorious day that competitive baseball returns. But when it does, please, please make it a point to rid yourself of this bad habit. It’ll make me, as well as countless other baseball fans across the world, much happier.
It’s easy to say that St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny’s usage of his bullpen was the main reason that the his team lost in just five games to the San Francisco Giants in the National League Championship Series.
In many ways, it’s a fair argument – Matheny made several questionable decisions when it came to his bullpen, and he saw the immediate results when his relievers either lost the lead or lost the game in four of the five games against the Giants. Matheny’s misuse of his bullpen was capped off by the series-winning three-run home run that Travis Ishikawa launched into the right field stands off of Michael Wacha, who entered the ninth inning of the a must-win game for the Cardinals having not pitched in over three weeks. Standing in the Cardinal bullpen just beyond first base ready to go were lefty Randy Choate (who could have faced lefties Ishikawa and shortstop Brandon Crawford) as well as righty Seth Maness (whose uncanny ability to induce double plays has been invaluable to the Cardinals the last two years). Instead, Matheny chose to stick with Wacha, who ultimately gave up the series-clinching home run.
Throw in a couple of other poor choices – leaving Choate in after walking Crawford in the tenth inning of Game 3, and Matheny’s quick hook of both Maness and All-Star Pat Neshek, and there’s no doubt that the bullpen played a large part of the untimely demise of the Cards’ World Series hopes.
But don’t pin this all on Matheny. The Cardinals offense failed to put their team in a position to win without unnecessary drama from the Matheny and the bullpen.