Opinion

Pop-up slide rules will not change, commissioner says

Kansas City Royals right fielder Alex Rios waited near second base while umpires reviewed a call to see whether or not he safely stole the base during the ALCS.
Kansas City Royals right fielder Alex Rios waited near second base while umpires reviewed a call to see whether or not he safely stole the base during the ALCS. jtoyoshiba@kcstar.com

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred’s message to those who dislike tag-out calls on pop-up slides: Get over it.

Twice in the playoffs, Royals runners beat throws on stolen-base attempts but were called out after replay reviews because they came off the bag while the tag was being applied.

Some in baseball have suggested an allowance be made for a player who approaches the base at full speed, slides and momentum takes him away from the base, if momentarily.

That happened to Terrance Gore in an American League Division Series game at Houston and Alex Rios in an AL Championship Series game at Toronto. Rios attempted a feet-first, pop-up slide, and both feet came off the bag.

In both cases, the runner beat the throw and was called safe. Replay reversed both calls, as they should have and will continue to do, said Manfred, who added those on the committee that shaped the replay rules — Joe Torre and Tony La Russa among them — warned about such plays.

“They actually warned us that when you go to the replay, you’re going to have calls that are going to get made that never used to get made,” Manfred said Monday during a news conference at Kauffman Stadium. “And this was an example.”

Optional replay isn’t an option.

“Even if it was not a call that had traditionally been made, we had to accept that if the replay officials see it, they’ve got to call it,” Manfred said. “You can’t tell them not to call what they see.”

Mighty Mets

Former Royals pitching coach Guy Hansen watches plenty of baseball. Few starting rotations have caught his eye like the Mets’.

“The extraordinary thing I see is the high-end velocity as a group,” Hansen said. “What I see from one pitcher to the next is a four-seamer, a two-seamer and when they get in trouble cheese at the knees with late life. They all have huge arms.”

Matt Harvey opens the series tonight. His fastball averaged 95.8 mph this season. Game 2 starter Jacob deGrom’s averaged 94.9. Game 3 starter Noah Syndergaard averaged 97.0, and Game 4 starter Steven Matz, the lone lefty of the group, averaged 94.3.

According to ESPN research, the Mets have baseball’s hardest-throwing rotation since 2009, when the velocity statistics were first kept.

They’ve elevated their game in the postseason. DeGrom is 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA with 27 strikeouts in 20 innings. Harvey is 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA with 16 strikeouts in 12  2/3 innings, and Syndergaard is 1-1 with a 2.77 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 13 innings.

“They don’t give up many home runs, and their WHIPs (walks plus hits divided by innings pitched) are extraordinary,” said Hansen. “It’s tough to score when teams get an average of one base runner per inning.”

Blair Kerkhoff: 816-234-4730, @BlairKerkhoff

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