One of the most exciting plays in baseball arises when the runner from first base comes flying into second, hellbent on disrupting the defender who has taken a throw, stepped on the bag and is trying to throw accurately to complete the double play. Collisions at second have caused major injuries. Second basemen and shortstops flinch from these collisions. Their efforts to step clear before making that throw have caused many double plays to misfire.
Perhaps there is an explicit exception somewhere in baseball’s voluminous rulebook, but I doubt it. In fact, these attempts to break up the double play should never happen. They are allowed only because of the excitement they generate. Here’s what should happen: the moment the umpire sees that the runner is trying to interfere with the play, he should call the other player – the batter – out for interference. Why? It should be obvious.
The moment the defender steps on second base, the runner coming from first is out. Once a player is out, he may not try to influence the play. He can’t get in the way. He can’t try to make a throw bounce off his body. So why can he try to mow down the defender who is trying to make a throw?
Baseball can do without these threatened collisions. And perhaps, if there was no threat of being knocked down, the defenders would be more careful to touch second base while holding the baseball (see my previous post). Play ball! But follow the rules, please.