MLB reportedly admits Anthony Rizzo's controversial slide vs. the Pirates should have been called illegal

There was controversy Monday afternoon at PNC Park.

In the eighth inning of his team's win over the Pittsburgh Pirates (CHC 7, PIT 0), Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo slid into catcher Elias Diaz at home plate in what he admitted was an attempt to break up the double play. The slide forced Diaz into a throwing error that allowed two runs to score.

Here's the play:

The play was reviewed and the slide was deemed legal by MLB's central review office. Not surprisingly, the Pirates were not happy about the call.

On Tuesday, MLB has reportedly admitted its mistake. According to multiple reporters, including ESPN's Jesse Rogers, MLB informed both teams the slide was illegal and Rizzo should've been called for interference. From Rogers:

Breaking: Source indicates the league believes interference should have been called yesterday re Anthony Rizzo's 8th inning slide at home plate. Both teams have been informed of that decision which differs from the call on the field and the umpires video review.  

Rizzo had already been forced out at the plate before the slide. Had the play been called interference, the Pirates would've been given the out on Diaz's throw to first base. It would've made a significant difference in the game. Consider the situations:

  • Rizzo slide called legal: Cubs up 5-0, runner on second with one out.
  • Rizzo slide called illegal: Cubs up 3-0, runners on second and third with two outs.

Maybe those runners score and the Cubs take a 5-0 lead anyway. Who knows? I do know a 5-0 game is very different than a 3-0 game though. Both Cubs manager Joe Maddon and Pirates manager Clint Hurdle would've used their bullpen differently.

MLB rule 6.01(i) says the "runner attempting to score may not deviate from his direct pathway to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate), or otherwise initiate an avoidable collision." Rizzo, clearly, deviated from his path to initiate an avoidable collision. Was it a dirty slide? I'm not sure. Was it against the rules? For sure.

For whatever reason, MLB's replay crew did not see it that way at the time, and the play stood. The slide was called legal. Now MLB has reportedly backtracked, and informed both teams the slide should've been ruled illegal. That doesn't help the Pirates now, but at least the league is acknowledging the mistake.

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for MLBTradeRumors.com, FanGraphs.com, RotoAuthority.com,... Full Bio

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