Snyder's Soapbox: Hitters are only hurting themselves by trying to slide into first base instead of running

snyder's soapbox: hitters are only hurting themselves by trying to slide into first base instead of running

Snyder's Soapbox: Hitters are only hurting themselves by trying to slide into first base instead of running

Welcome to Snyder's Soapbox! Here I pontificate about a matter related to Major League Baseball on a weekly basis. Some of the topics will be pressing matters, some might seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things and most will be somewhere in between. The good thing about this website is it's free and you are allowed to click away. If you stay, you'll get smarter, though, that's a money-back guarantee. Let's get to it.

The person running this account for Major League Baseball urges us to watch the defensive play, but my mind gets hijacked by the lunacy on display from Harold Ramírez:

Oh the humanity.

This rarely happens, but I think I actually got angry when I first saw it. Maybe slight anger laced with moderate annoyance. It's just a ridiculous decision to make as a major-league baserunner.

The feet-first slide into first should never, ever happen but sliding at all is a mistake nearly every single time and, yet, we still see plenty of it. It is utter madness.

Here's the rule I'm attempting to set in stone: A player running from home is only permitted to slide into first base in order to avoid a collision. That's it. There is no other circumstance in which a baserunner is allowed to do it. I'm going to push for fines and even suspensions. End the insanity.

There are some misguided folks out there who claim there's some sort of advantage for the runner. They are dead wrong. Brett Gardner is one of those people. He said in 2011 that he could show you video of himself diving into first base and prove it was faster. He was wrong. Mike Petriello of MLB.com used Statcast and found that Gardner did, in fact, slow himself down by diving. Others have done studies and it always comes up that a runner slows himself down while sliding. Of course he does. Once he touches the ground with body parts other than the feet, there's more friction. Given that a runner is allowed to run through first base, the shortest possible amount of time for the runner to get through the bag is to run straight through without slowing down or altering his running motion.

It's probably cliché at this point to say as much, but it's worth including: If it were faster to dive into first base, why don't Olympic sprinters dive into the finish line? They study every possible thing about running in an attempt to shave even hundredths of a second off their times and somehow none of them ever realized they should dive into the finish line? C'mon, get real. It slows you down to slide and dive.

In addition to the slowing down, diving into first base provides extra opportunity to injury fingers, hands and wrists -- not to mention putting your head down around someone's feet. This one can't be proven, but surely it's much more difficult for umpires to make a correct call when a player dives instead of just running through the bag. They are used to hearing the sound of a ball hitting a glove and a foot stepping on the base. Those two sounds are the determining factor on whether to call safe or out. The dive throws everything off there.

I'm trying to think of any upside at all and the best I can come up with is a player just gets caught up in the moment and is desperately trying to do anything he physically can to get to the bag as fast as he can. The problem here is it actually slows him down. Just keep sprinting. That's all you can do.

For the love of all that is holy, baserunners, please stop making fools of yourselves and just run through the bag -- again, unless there's a collision coming, in which case you gotta, unfortunately, get dirty.

That is the lone exception and I'm pushing for the steepest penalties possible for all violators. When it comes to a runner heading to first base, we absolutely must stop the slide.

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