(CBS) A day after a home-plate collision between Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo and Padres catcher Austin Hedges sparked a controversy and criticism from San Diego, Chicago manager Joe Maddon on Tuesday was mystified by the uproar over what he called a “good baseball play.”
“The catcher did the right thing, Anthony did the right thing,” Maddon said on the Spiegel and Parkins Show on 670 The Score on Tuesday afternoon. “He was out. I say move on from there.
“I thought it was a great play on both sides, and the Padres won that moment.”
With the Cubs trailing the Padres, 2-1, in the sixth inning on Monday night at Wrigley Field, Rizzo tagged up from third base on a hard-hit liner off the bat of Kris Bryant. Center fielder Matt Szczur caught it and threw a dart to Hedges, who had dropped to his knees in front of home plate.
The collision ensued, one that injured Hedges as he left the game with a bruised right thigh after hanging onto the ball to record the out. After the Cubs’ 3-2 win, Padres manager Andy Green called Rizzo’s actions an “egregious violation of the rule” and a “cheap shot,” citing that Rizzo “clearly deviated from his path” to collide with Hedges.
Here’s video of the play:
Rule 7.13 reads in part: “A runner attempting to score may not deviate from his direct pathway to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher.”
Of Green’s criticism, Maddon replied that he’s “absolutely entitled to his opinion.” He then vehemently disagreed with the assertion by some observers that it was a “dirty” play.
“First of all, to call it a dirty play is absolutely wrong,” Maddon said. “It’s not a dirty play. That’s something people have been taught to say based on this ambiguous rule that’s been created. I’ll concede that part of it. But it’s not a dirty play. So whoever’s saying that, just please drop that narrative, because that’s not true. If you look at it really closely, the catcher starts moving toward Anthony as he catches the ball, as he’s supposed to. I have no idea what Anthony’s supposed to do in an attempt to be safe. The object is to score a run and be safe, and I think Anthony’s best method of doing that was to do what he did do.
“So again, it’s just crazy, stuff that we’ve initiated in our culture.”
Maddon didn’t expect MLB to hand out any disciple to Rizzo, saying “Why would there be?” when asked about the possibility. As of early Tuesday afternoon, Maddon hadn’t heard anything on that front.
Maddon also didn’t expect to discuss the situation with Green prior to Tuesday night’s game. Asked about the possibility of the Padres retaliating by throwing at Rizzo, Maddon responded that it’d be “egregious.”
“To me, that’s that part that’s really egregious,” Maddon said. “If a pitcher all of a sudden attempts to hit somebody because of what you perceive to be a bad or dirty play, that to me is the part that I don’t agree with. The play itself, everybody’s entitled to their own opinion on what they saw. I saw good baseball last night. Now, if you choose to throw a ball at 90-some miles an hour at somebody’s head, that to me is the egregious part of the game that should never be permitted. I’m not anticipating anything, I’m really not. It’d be wrong on their part to go in that direction, because Anthony wasn’t trying to hurt their catcher. He was trying to score a run. That’s it.”
Maddon on multiple occasions has expressed his disgust for the rule aimed at protecting catchers. It was instituted in 2014 and is often known as the “Buster Posey rule,” in reference to the star San Francisco Giants catcher getting seriously injured in a collision at home plate in 2011.
Maddon even went in on the origins of the rule and cited “bad technique” for Posey getting hurt on the play that sparked it all.
“If it was a third-string catcher for the Atlanta Braves who got hurt (years ago), this wouldn’t even be in existence,” Maddon said.
“It’s ambiguous. It’s really difficult to arbitrate regarding the umpires — it’s happening so quickly. Again, I think it should be more about technique as opposed to worrying whether a catcher gets hit or not. I played the position. I was hit. It hurts sometimes. But it’s all about technique.”
Listen to Maddon’s full interview below.