Chase Utley took out Ruben Tejada with a hard slide in the 2015 National League Division series, breaking the shortstop’s leg.
The incident helped expedite a new rule aimed at limiting contact at the bag during double plays. After some hiccups in 2016, players have adapted and the contact-less existence has quickly become accepted. This is a good thing, even if — as I do — some miss the old way of doing things.
Perhaps because the new way of doing things already feels normal, it is downright jarring when one stumbles on a clip of the contact that used to be permitted. Take, for instance, these two postseason examples of Hal McRae straight-up obliterating second basemen.
Here he is in the 1972, playing for the Cincinnati Reds. Oakland’s Dick Green didn’t have a chance as McRae goes into him like a safety trying to make a no-arm tackle.
And here he is in 1977 with the Kansas City Royals, using a rolling block on Willie Randolph of the Yankees in the American League Championship Series.
So, yeah, things have changed a bit.
On one hand, it’s a good thing that player safety has been improved. On the other, there’s no arguing what McRae and others did back in the day was exciting. Maybe there’s a happy medium out there Major League Baseball can explore.