A day after Anthony Rizzo’s controversial slide into the leg of Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Elias Diaz, MLB said that the slide was illegal. Chicago Cubs manager, Joe Maddon, isn’t buying it. In fact, he heavily implied that Diaz was to blame.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon on what he told Joe Torre about the Rizzo play: "I absolutely disagree. There's nothing wrong with that play."
— Zach Zaidman (@ZachZaidman) May 29, 2018
#Cubs Maddon: "You cannot penalize good hard baseball — good, hard clean baseball through a set of rules that have been made up that really don't apply"
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) May 29, 2018
Joe Maddon didn't name names but made it clear he blames Elias Diaz for all this:
"It’s about technique, it’s about having a clock in your head, it’s about eyes in the back of your head. If you can’t do that, then don’t catch. Don’t play the position."
— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) May 29, 2018
Simply put, Maddon is not right on this one. In fact, he’s not close.
MLB is correct in saying that the slide was illegal. As recently as 2015, the slide would have been fine. Rizzo would have only needed to be within reach of the base (which he was). But in the current rules, the player has to be clearly sliding at the base. Rizzo was not doing that.
I don't know about this slide by Anthony Rizzo. pic.twitter.com/oozPIy1j3V
— Zachary D. Rymer (@zachrymer) May 28, 2018
Diaz was well out of the way of the base line. Even to the extent that he should have gotten out of the way either, Rizzo was not going directly at the base.
Maddon simply defending his guy would be fine.
He can point out that slow-motion replays and screenshots often make things out to be much worse than they actually are. He could point out that Rizzo came up at a time when slides like that were perfectly legal and that it’s hard to break old habits. Those would be true.
But Maddon is doing himself, his player, and his team no favors with these comments. While the desire to defend his guy is understandable, a simple “no comment” would have worked better than what came out of Maddon’s mouth.