When a base runner uses an oven mitt for sliding head first into a base, he is touching the bag an inch or two sooner with that mitt than his actual hand. Now what? Today on replay we see a safe or out call that is determined by fractions of an inch. On a visit to the MLB replay studio a few years ago, I saw just how clearly the image is when those powerful slow-mo cameras are put to the test. By wearing this mitt, how do you determine if or when his real hand gets to the base? Is there even a ruling on this? When I asked my umpire friend Brian Livingston, he didn’t have an answer and asked me, “What’s next, players using one of those giant foam fingers?”
In a piece entitled “Bat Flips & Nerds. A British Take on Baseball.” Thomas Pringle, with tongue in cheek, takes a look at how absurd this new practice is. He jokes about a mitt that could be made 90 feet long. I love British humor. The reason why a player wants to wear one is legit. He wants to protect his hand when sliding hands first. Hey how about a padded chin guard next. So is wearing this mitt cheating or just a way to take advantage of a situation where there is no way to determine if, in-fact, the player’s hand is at the tip of the mitt?
This has to be driving those gamblers who play fantasy baseball, Draft Kings etc. crazy. First, let’s not confuse real baseball fans with people who bet on the game Just stating my own opinion here. That being said, those fractions of an inch could be the difference of winning or losing money. MLB has to figure this out right now. After all, they are partners with Draft Kings and have an obligation to make sure no one gets cheated on a bet. Ok, just my attempt at a little humor again.
Let’s face it, all sports have flaws in their rules and we as a society know it’s up to the participants to exploit them as much as possible. Isn’t that what we were taught from Little League to the pros? Isn’t that what made America the land of opportunity? We don’t come to a full stop at a stop sign, we don’t go 20 mph in a school zone and try to cut ahead of everyone merging off an exit ramp on the BQE. So what’s the problem here? Listen, cheating in baseball or looking for an edge is ok, they even call going from one base to another on the pitch a steal!
So this weekend when you are pulling out a ham or turkey from the oven, don’t get gravy on your oven mitt. Protect it, put it under your pillow when you go to sleep and only wash it on delicate. It could be the difference maker for your kid getting drafted one day. You know what, maybe Mr. Pringle in England is on to something here with his 90-foot sliding mitt.