In the aftermath of severe leg injuries to New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada and Pittsburgh Pirates standout Jung Ho Kang last season, Major League Baseball and the players union are reportedly close to changing the rules on sliding into second base.
ESPN.com's Buster Olney reported Monday the two sides have found "a lot of common ground" in their ongoing deliberations about the rules. They're working to implement an amendment that will go into effect for the upcoming 2016 season.
Kang tore his left MCL in a collision during a September 17 game against the Chicago Cubs, while Tejada was taken out of Game 2 in the National League Division Series by Los Angeles Dodgers veteran Chase Utley.
"Whatever the rules are I think we all should abide by them, and go from there if they decide to make a change…and play accordingly," said Utley last week of a potential rules alteration, per FoxSports.com's Adrian Garro.
According to Olney, the rules adjustments will require runners to touch the base or at least make a clear effort to do so. The two sides are debating whether instant replay will be used to determine if an outlawed slide takes place.
Major League Baseball is making a commendable effort to address a safety issue. Aside from the two notable aforementioned exceptions, though, runners and infielders seem to have a feel for the situation when a double-play bid is in progress.
There is a delicate balance to strike in this potential rule change. The players have argued, per Olney, that they're coached from a young age to break up a double-play attempt at any cost when sliding into second. Defenders have also been trained to watch out for incoming runners and are adept at adjusting without injury more often than not.
If replay is indeed called upon to review slides, critics of the game pace of America's pastime will have even more fodder for debate.