Lowell’s shoulder on Saturday

In Saturday’s Red Sox-Yankees game, Mike Lowell made that’s pretty clearly a much more egregious plan on the basepaths. From the recap on ESPN:

A night after Lowell took a pitch off his left wrist — one of five hit batsman in the game — he had three hits and four RBIs. He was also involved in a little basepath payback in the fourth when he slammed his right shoulder — and a little bit of his elbow — into Cano in an attempt to break up a double play.

Cano bounced the ball to first as he fell to the dirt, just getting Varitek at first.

“I never had a problem with him before,” Cano said. “Today he threw his elbow.”

But Torre said it was a clean play. Lowell, who spent his first four professional seasons in the Yankees organization, insisted he meant no harm.

“They taught me how to do it,” he said.

If you see the highlight, it’s a little remarkable that Cano made the play at all.

The interesting thing for me is that no matter how you want to interpret the rules, in terms of actual interference in a play on the field, Lowell’s action is far more direct and disruptive than what Alex did… but Lowell doesn’t face the same kind of scrutiny and discussion that Alex’s action did. Lowell’s play is even noted as being, essentially, hard but clean.

Why? Is it because Lowell doesn’t carry Alex’s reputation? Because breaking up a double play is acceptable? Or is it as simple as Cano somehow making the throw to get the out at first?

8 comments ↓

#1 Frank Jordan on 06.05.07 at 7:05 am

I think the reason this was considered “clean” compared to Alex is because it wasn’t deceptive. The rules state the runner has the rights to the baseline and he very openly planted and lowered his shoulder. The A-Rod play was deceptive, like a balk call, and considered unsportsmanlike.

#2 Evan on 06.05.07 at 10:23 am

But baserunners are allowed to run over fielders who are in their way – that’s always been the explanation for the take-out slide at second.

I’ve always wondered why players who could disrupt the play more by running through second (turning for third as if the out hadn’t been made) don’t do that.

Lowell running over Cano is Lowell behaving as he would have had Cano not been there – Lowell’s specific job there is to run to the bag. A-Rod shouting at Clark is A-Rod specifically acting to distract Clark.

#3 DMZ on 06.05.07 at 8:48 pm

I’m going to have to finish up that post on the applicable rules and interpretations on taking out the guy at second.

#4 Nathan on 06.06.07 at 8:58 am

The non-reaction to this play totally baffles me. On an imaginary spectrum that ranges from a hard slide into second to Albert Belle’s elbow to Fernando Vina’s head, what Lowell did strikes me as closer to latter.

#5 Fred on 06.06.07 at 11:46 am

Evan makes an interesting point that reminds me of a play I encountered in slow pitch softball a few weeks ago. Guy on first runs to 2nd on a ground ball to 3rd, 3rd baseman throws to 2nd, but instead of sliding or stopping at 2nd, the runner just keeps running hard to 3rd. With only one umpire calling the game, the play was close enough that he called the runner safe even though he was clearly out by my view at 1st. By running through 2nd base, the runner was able to trick the umpire into calling him safe. It would be much more difficult to pull off with a full officiating crew, but why not try it?

#6 Evan on 06.06.07 at 3:48 pm

Even Yankee-fan extraordinaire, Tim McCarver, said during this play, “That was a smart play by Lowell.”

Fielders aren’t allowed to stand in the path of the runner and force the runner to dodge them. Lowell’s play only looks a bit odd because he stopped first before throwing the shoulder.

#7 Steve on 06.06.07 at 10:09 pm

Watching the game, it appeared to me that Lowell *stopped*. Cano kept running. It wasn’t so much as Lowell running into Cano, but Cano running into a (stopped) Lowell.

Lesson: don’t run into a baseball player.

#8 Rusty Priske on 06.15.07 at 10:46 am

I just hate seeing comments like “but why not try it?”

The main reason would be because you have a sense of fair play and sportsmanship.