Look, I'm all for hard-nosed baseball. And when I think of hard-nosed baseball, my mind instantly replays Pete Rose barreling over Ray Fosse at home plate in the 1970 MLB All-Star Game.
In the decades since that play, many rules have been enacted across different leagues to ensure player safety so that something like that -- or what happened to Buster Posey -- never happens again.
That brings me to a play that took place at the Little League World Series last week. When the Mid-Atlantic team from Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania took on the Southwest team from Pearland, Texas in the LLWS opening round, a controversial play took place at the plate.
I'm still dumbfounded at what the runner did wrong.
That's the play in question.
With the game tied at 2-2 in the third inning, Pennsylvania pinch runner Nathan Phillips raced around third and headed home. The throw from centerfield was perfect, and it beat Phillips easily. The catcher then shifted his body to give Phillips zero lane to the plate.
Naturally, Phillips moves right to dodge the tag. He avoids another tag before diving head first into home. However, the home plate umpire calls him out. So, what's the deal?
According to the Altoona Mirror, the runner was called out for running out of the base line, presumably on the second dodge when he circled around home plate. Many users on social media speculated similarly. Some said he was out because he dove head first into the plate. Others said it was a baseline issue.
Official Little League rules state that runners can't run "more than three feet away" from the baseline or slide head first while advancing. The rules also state that the runner's baseline is established when the tag attempt occurs, so that doesn't necessarily mean it's along the chalk foul line.
What's more is that even the broadcasters were surprised at the call. Eduardo Perez, a former MLB player, even says that Phillips never left the baseline. Karl Ravech sounded stunned, too.
All of this is to say: That call is complete crap. The runner wasn't even given a lane to slide into home, so he improvises his way into touching home without getting tagged. Sure, there's an argument that he was circling home a little bit, but blame the catcher for a poor tag attempt.
I know the umpires are volunteer umpires and they deserve some slack, but you just hate to see bad calls affect the games.
Pennsylvania went on to lose to Texas, 8-3. This play would've given the Mid-Atlantic team a lead and maybe momentum that would've changed the outcome. Was the umpire correct making that call? I'll let you be the judge.
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