In the 7th inning of the World Series Jason Kipnis hit a dribbler to the right side of the infield. Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo misplayed the ball leaving Javy Baez to clean up the mess. Kipnis went hard down the line in what would be a bang-bang play. Unfortunately, for Kipnis he slid, and was out by the narrowest of margins. The inning was over and the Indians opportunity to extend their lead was ended.
So the question becomes, why the hell do these guys continue to slide into first base?
Barring a perfect slide executed with a serious understanding of physics, sliding into first is not going to help their cause. It’s going to slow them down. They’d be better off simply running through the bag. That way they don’t break stride, and they don’t waste energy. They can maintain their top speed longer, decreasing the time that it takes to get to the base.
Now, in the past there was an argument that sliding into first on close plays could make the decision more difficult for the umpire, due to the change of eye levels. Makes sense, except that could also work against the player. A player that was really safe, is now called out because they just made it that much closer, and that much more difficult for the umpire to decide.
Also, with the implementation of instant replay in baseball, it doesn’t really matter anymore. If a coach has the ability to challenge the call, then they can do so anyway. The video won’t lie.
But more than anything, sliding into first just increases the chance for injury. Players get hurt all the time from sliding. By sliding when they don’t have to they’re just increasing the possibility that they get hurt, a risk that’s not really worth taking.
I do want to say that there is one instance where sliding into first makes sense. If the first baseman has to come off the bag and a tag is going to be needed, a slide will work. The slide lets the runner easily avoid the tag, and get into the base before being called out. But other than that, it’s really a useless tactic that players continue to utilize unnecessarily. It’s time to stop.