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MLB review determines Anthony Rizzo should’ve been called for interference

An MLB review of Anthony Rizzo’s controversial slide into home plate against the Pirates’ Elias Diaz determined that the Cubs first baseman should’ve been called for interference, according to MLB.com.

The Cubs and Pirates were both informed of the determination by the league Tuesday.

“They 100 percent made it clear that it wasn’t a dirty play,” Rizzo said regarding what Theo Epstein and Joe Maddon were told by MLB. “It is what it is. We just have to move on from it.”

Rizzo became the source of debate over the interference rule after taking out Diaz’s legs on a potential double play in the Cubs’ 7-0 victory Monday. The first baseman stood little chance of being safe at home plate, but slid into Diaz’s legs as the catcher tried to throw the ball to first base. Two more runs came in as a result of Diaz’s throw flying into right field.

Anthony Rizzo, Elias Diaz

Anthony Rizzo's slide into home plate should've been called interference. | Gene J. Puskar/AP Photo

Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle, who was ejected for arguing with umpire Bill Welke, called it “open season” on catchers after the game, which saw both the umpires on the field and a booth review decline to call interference on Rizzo. He was happy to see the league admit its error.

“I’m just glad the industry knows now that that particular slide, when you watch it again, knows that that one’s not going to work,” Hurdle said.

Diaz had also criticized the call Monday.

“I understand they called it a legal slide, but out of what I’ve been trained and what I’ve been told, that was not a legal slide,” Diaz said after the game. “And I’m thinking of all the horrible things that could have happened in my career after that.”

The main reason why MLB has worked to enforce its interference rules on the base paths is to protect fielders who are in vulnerable positions. It’s fortunate that nobody was injured on a potentially dangerous play.

Pirates infielder Sean Rodriguez, meanwhile, said he respected Rizzo for his approach to the game.

“I would’ve slid the same way. You’ve got a foot on the line where some guys think it’s dirty and some don’t when you play hard, and Rizzo, as long as I’ve known him?” Rodriguez said. “He came up in the same school of baseball that I did, where you’re taught to play with everything you’ve got, and he does that. I respect every bit of that about Rizzo. He’s just playing hard. Look, he got his team two more runs.”

Now it appears that Hurdle and Diaz were right all along, however, and Rizzo should’ve been called for an illegal slide. The umpires screwed up the call on the field, then a video review designed to catch those mistakes screwed up the call again in the booth.

The Cubs and Rizzo ultimately benefitted from that. MLB’s review suggests they shouldn’t have.

Reporting contributed by Steve Greenberg