I am not a traditionalist. I don't care about things being done the same way they've been done in the past. Just because some people a long time ago took a particular course action doesn't mean I should. Etc. etc.
Which means that a lot of what baseball commentators and players say is pure nonsense in my mind. This is a game steeped in tradition. It honors the past. Many people talk as if the only thing that matters in assessing a current situation is whether the legends of the past did the same thing.
Don't get me wrong, there's reason to honor Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby. There's reason to learn about a team's history and understand the franchise. There are records that are important and revered. But, this is all on their own merit. Joe Dimaggio's 56 consecutive games with a hit is incredible not because it was done in the past, but because it's an incredible feat in and of itself.
So when Roy Halladay took to Twitter to defend Chase Utley with this post, you can guess how I felt about it:
Chase Utley plays the game the way it was meant! If Joe Torre knew him he would know he made a mistake! #FreeUtley pic.twitter.com/m0fMAwknRY— Roy Halladay (@RoyHalladay) October 13, 2015
This part of it - "the way it was meant" - is just silly. The game was meant to be played without gloves, without batting helmets, and without black people. But we've changed and the game has changed. In fact, it changes almost every year. Since I've been a fan, there are new playoff rounds, new divisions, new teams, new stadiums, new rules, new balls, and new technology. There are new players, many from new parts of the world, every year who bring new energy and new playing styles to the game.
All of this is a wonderful part of the game. None of it should be jettisoned just because it's different than the past. Not every change is necessarily good, but it should be evaluated based on its merit, with the fact that it's a break from tradition having nothing to do with it.
So when Roy Halladay says that Chase Utley's slide was how baseball "was meant" to be played, it's not something that warrants any attention. The game, like life, changes. Sorry Roy - get over this nonsense.
That being said, the past does matter in one sense here - not tradition, but fairness. If Utley (and the rest of the players) has been led to believe through his and others' past actions that a slide like this is within the bounds of the game, then he should not be punished. It would be unfair to do so.
Prospectively though, I do hope MLB changes the rule. Collisions at second base have seemed like a bizarre anomaly in the game. There's no need for them. If MLB is cracking down on catcher collisions with its new rules, collisions that take place with someone in pads, then there's no reason whatsoever not to crack down on second base collisions.
And by no reason, I mean especially not for the reason Halladay is defending Utley with here.
Postscript: I am fully aware that criticizing two of my favorite Phillies ever is going to be a highly unpopular position!