The Rundown: Happ Hits Homer After Pair of Controversial Calls

Ian’s Happ’s promotion Saturday came as a surprise to most fans, but his performance in the game did not. Happ homered for his first major league hit, making him the third Cub in the lineup to do so. But in a trivial twist, he was only the second to homer in his debut. Everyone remembers the dinger Willson Contreras hit on the first pitch he saw last season, but he had actually entered the previous game as a defensive replacement.

As I’m sure you know by now, Javy Baez is the other.

An interesting decision from the official scorekeeper in St. Louis ensured that the homer was Happ’s first hit, having given Matt Carpenter an error after a diving stab didn’t result in an out. Joe Maddon was upset about the ruling after the game, though it was another call on the field that had the Cubs manager even more steamed.

Slide rule costs Cubs

Okay, remember how Happ reached on that “fielding error” with only one out in the top of the 5th? Kyle Schwarber had walked ahead of him and made it to third on the play, which meant that he would have scored on just about anything other than a double play.

Right on cue, Anthony Rizzo hit a sharp grounder that almost led to a twin killing. But Happ slid aggressively and forced Aledmys Diaz to back away from the bag (after tagging it) and eat the relay throw. Run scores, man on first, inning continues. Except…

“That’s where I’m hung up, man,” Joe Maddon said of the call after the game. “I’ve talked about this before. I have no idea why these rules are a part of our game. That had a tremendous impact on today’s game, where outs are rewarded based on a fabricated rule.

“It is created under the umbrella of safety, which, I totally disagree that that was a non-safe play. You slide directly over the bag and you’re called out when there’s no chance for the runner to be thrown out at first base.”

Let me first say that I completely agree with Maddon on the rule in this case. I like the implementation of the rule in the event that a guy goes five feet wide of the bag and/or is throwing his hands or feet up to trip a defender. It’s when you have rules open to subjectivity, however, that they get a little too loose.

This wasn’t a spikes-up dirty slide, even though Happ did go through the bag a little late with the intent of breaking up the play. And that’s where the interpretation comes in, which in this case meant ruling that Happ was obstructing the play. Inning over.

Here’s the thing. I don’t like the law in Marion County, Indiana that says the max speed limit is 55 mph. It doesn’t make sense for most of I-65 and 465, the doughnut interstate ringing the city of Indianapolis. But if I’m pulled over doing 70, I can’t very well complain about it. Rules are rules and you have to understand them whether you like them or not.

More news and notes

  • Bryce Harper signed a $21.65 million deal for 2018
    • More later on whether/how this impacts Cubs
  • Jeurys Familia is out 3-4 months following surgery for a clot in his shoulder
  • Eloy Jimenez was assigned to high-A Myrtle Beach
  • Pardon the brevity, lots going on in the Altman house
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