Cup-check time: Joe Maddon is full of ideas to increase player safety

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Joe Maddon has some big ideas for MLB commissioner Rob Manfred.
| Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

ST. LOUIS — Cubs manager Joe Maddon opined Sunday that Major League Baseball should institute a mandatory protective cup rule, and that old-fashioned cup checks should be performed before players take their positions.

Many of you will remember cup checks from your little-league days.

Knock, knock. Anybody home?

“Even when I coached third base in the minor leagues,” Maddon said, “I always wore a cup. I was always concerned. So I think there needs to be a cup check as players run onto the field now in order to prevent the potential for the loss of future families.”

Was this serious jock-strap talk or simple jocularity?

It was closer to the latter, though with at least one spoonful of bitterness stirred in a day after the Cubs’ Ian Happ was called for slide interference, costing the team a run and wiping out a rally in a game eventually won by the Cardinals 5-3.

After that defeat, Maddon said a culture of “protectionism” has gone too far when it comes to rules modifications regarding slides at second base on potential double plays and the positioning of catchers when baserunners are trying to score.

Roughly 17 hours later, before the Cubs fell 5-0 in the rubber game of the series — dropping a game under .500 on the season — Maddon sarcastically suggested other new rules the league might want to take under advisement.

“I think we should now consider eliminating the headfirst slide to protect baserunners,” he said, “because that is really a dangerous slide. It is. To headfirst slide, you can hurt your hand. Your eye can be poked out. All kinds of different things could occur on a headfirst slide.”

Making reference to Diamondbacks catcher Chris Iannetta, who suffered broken teeth and facial fractures Friday when hit by a pitch, Maddon went all-in.

“I think the facemask should be mandatory for all hitters,” he said. “And pitchers have been hit in the head with line drives several times, line drives up the middle. So I think pitchers now should be forced to wear helmets.”

Is that all? Nope — certainly not after last week in Denver, when Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon was hit in the butt by a foul ball as he stood in the on-deck circle during a game against the Cubs.

“He got smoked,” Maddon said. “I think there should be a cage in the on-deck circle now so on-deck guys can stand behind the screen and not get hurt.”

In case you didn’t get all that, Maddon provided a recap.

“So, no more headfirst slides, facemasks, helmets, cage, cup check on a daily basis.”

Now those are some safety precautions.

What other “pansy” stuff, to use Jon Lester’s word, might Maddon approve of? Airbags in the outfield walls? Speed limits on fastballs? Juice boxes and orange slices after every inning?

“I’m all about protectionism,” he said, tongue planted firmly in cheek. “I’m starting to think like everybody else.”

Follow me on Twitter @SLGreenberg.



Kyle Schwarber’s average dips to .179.

So far, so good for Ian Happ.

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