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The Cardinals approach to home plate plays: “must-slide, must-tag”

Feb 17, 2014, 3:03 PM EDT

Mike Matheny AP

Interesting story from Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch about how the Cardinals are approaching the new rules about avoiding home plate collisions. Rules that are not yet written, actually. Which means that the Cards are sort of making up their own approach. But it sounds like a really smart approach that I imagine a lot of teams will adopt:

[Mike Matheny] described for the media how catchers used to set up at the point nearest third base and, once they had the throw, would then move to block the plate. Now, as a third baseman often does, the catchers will set up on the first-base side of the plate and approach it as a tag play where the glove must be able to reach all points of the plate.

They’re calling it “must-slide, must-tag.” Which I presume applies to their own runners sliding and catchers making tag plays. Or that could mean the opposing players must slide because the Cards’ catchers aren’t going to give them a target to run into.

Either way: if it cuts down on collisions and injuries, it makes perfect sense to me.

  1. spudchukar - Feb 17, 2014 at 3:16 PM

    This isn’t actually new. It is the approach the Cards have been using for a couple of years now. Not that everyone has always employed it, but it has been Molina’s choice of positioning. The Cards feel that he is too valuable to try and block the plate, even if it does occasionally allow a run.

  2. jm91rs - Feb 17, 2014 at 3:25 PM

    Jeez, why don’t we just change it to flag baseball?

    • jm91rs - Feb 17, 2014 at 3:26 PM

      Sorry, I spent some time on PFT this morning and statements about the wussification of the sports world are pretty much all you’ll find in the comment sections.

      In reality anything that cuts down on injuries in baseball is a very good thing. Good call by the cards. The team MVP is a catcher and if he goes down it’s not good.

    • Professor Longnose - Feb 17, 2014 at 3:35 PM

      I didn’t realize it was tackle baseball.

    • historiophiliac - Feb 17, 2014 at 3:36 PM

      None of the instructions for playing baseball include when and how to make contact with another player. Contact is incidental rather than fundamental to the game; therefore, it does not alter the game to attempt to reduce instances of unnecessary contact. Your comment suggest you do not understand the essence of the game — most especially because removing someone’s flag is not really different from tagging them (which is already how the game is played).

      • jm91rs - Feb 17, 2014 at 4:46 PM

        historio, did you read the follow up? Maybe my sense of humor is not good enough for this site. If you’re at all familiar with the majority of football fans, you know that they cry every time a rule is changed to make it safer. The ultimate cry is “They’re going to make it flag football”. Your comment suggests that my sarcasm font doesn’t work, I guess the mere mention of anything football related turns off that feature.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 17, 2014 at 4:55 PM

        Dammit, man, it’s Malfunction Monday. You have to use Official Sarcasm Indicators on Mondays. Apologies for confusing you with a mouth-breather who wandered over. (PS I try not to be familiar with football fans at all, if’n I can hep it.)

    • dcarroll73 - Feb 17, 2014 at 3:41 PM

      “flag baseball”? Because we all know what wimps the Molinas are, right? Please go back to your caveman football.

      • jm91rs - Feb 17, 2014 at 4:43 PM

        Sorry, did you not read the follow up? It was a joke. The sarcasm font just doesn’t work on your computer. I forgot that posting on this website requires one to remember that mentioning football will get you flogged, especially if people don’t understand when you’re actually making fun of the general football fan base.
        PS, I’ll never call anyone with a neck tattoo a wimp.

      • stex52 - Feb 17, 2014 at 4:45 PM

        jm91, we do have a kneejerk response to any PFT refugees. But I got that you were joking.

      • jm91rs - Feb 17, 2014 at 4:48 PM

        Thanks Stex, I need a catchier name so people can remember that I actually post here daily about BASEBALL stories.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 17, 2014 at 5:22 PM

        stex is kissing up!

  3. brewcrewfan54 - Feb 17, 2014 at 3:29 PM

    If this policy does include their players as runners I wonder if there are punishments for a guy running into a catcher.

    • historiophiliac - Feb 17, 2014 at 3:39 PM

      It would be great if they did enforce this on runners. I fear some teams would not…because they are not content to simply play better than the other team. I’m sure that all the St. Louis players play the Cardinal way, though, so enforcement is moot — as they all willingly and eagerly do so.

      • spudchukar - Feb 17, 2014 at 3:58 PM

        Rumor has it that the City Council is considering a proposal to change the name of the boulevard that runs in front of the stadium to The Cardinal Way.

        Most Cardinal runners are now adopting the slide to the foul side of home plate and tagging the plate as one slides by the plate in a swiping motion. They feel it makes the tag tougher and by sliding later it gets one to the plate faster.

      • baccards - Feb 17, 2014 at 4:09 PM

        I had to give both you and Spud a thumbs up – It is the Cardinal Way

  4. schlom - Feb 17, 2014 at 3:53 PM

    Have they said what constitutes a “collision?” If the catcher is blocking the plate and the runner goes in spikes high will that be a collision?

    • paperlions - Feb 17, 2014 at 4:27 PM

      A slide won’t be considered a collision. The spirit of the rule is that the runner should be trying to get to the plate. Really, they STILL don’t need another rule….collisions aren’t allowed at other bases, just follow the rules and conventions for plays at the other 3 bases that involve tags.

  5. perryt200 - Feb 17, 2014 at 6:13 PM

    The MVP on the Cards team is easily Molina.

    They have so much depth at every other position it makes everyone else envious.

    Molina runs the game. The pitchers pitch better, the fielders are in better position, the plays on the field are better understood.

    If a colision took Molina out for months that is the only thing keeping the Cards from winning the NL Central. Two other starters could be out for the season, and I still think they could win it. Mostly cuz their depth is so big now no one can even agree on a starting lineup.

    Kudos to Matheny for setting a rule that protects their MVP

  6. mtr75 - Feb 18, 2014 at 1:08 PM

    They should call it “must change 100+ years of how baseball was played so MLB can try to avoid concussion lawsuit”.

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