Baseball doesn’t have a ton of contact plays between players. They took away the big one of runners being able to try and run over the catcher a couple years ago leaving, outfielders on the same team running into each other and base runners sliding into bases as the only game play contact situations that remain. The biggest one is the “take out” slide at second base on second baseman shortstops attempting to turn a double play. Yesterday The Chicago Cubs Chris Coghlan slid pretty hard and pretty wide into second and Jung Ho Kang of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the result was Kang tearing a ligament in his knee and has reportedly already had surgery and will miss an estimated 6-8 months. It was totally legal because Coghlan was within reach of the base. The question is, is it fair?
Yes. I have played years of middle infield and there is a skill to being able to turn the double play and part of that skill set is avoiding the runner. There are 100 hundred ways to do this. Kang took about 1 slight precaution, he is to the left of the base, but hardly far enough away to be out of Coghlan’s range to slide and try and take him out. The biggest problem with Kang’s positioning is that the is 2-3 feet in FRONT of the base. Look at the picture.
It looks like Kang was trying to catch the ball, tag the base and clear the bag going towards the second baseman’s position to avoid the oncoming Coghlan. Problem was he didn’t clear the sliding zone at all. He presented himself as a target for Coghlan and because Kang was in front of the bag not to the side and or behind it he was directly in the place Coghlan had to start his slide to reach the base. Which I would argue resulted in the severity of the injury.
In the end it’s a perfect take out slide. In the future if Kang wants to avoid the contact he has to be more aware of his location to the base. Don’t be in front of the base would be a good starting point. IF MLB wants to eliminate things of this nature they can do 1 of 2 things; bring back the ghost tag of 2nd base where the infielder just has to be in the vicinity, or disallow slide that aren’t directly into the base.