ST. LOUIS -- When Ian Happ was called out for interference after a slide at second base in the fifth inning on Saturday, it was a game-changing play in the Cubs' 5-3 loss to the Cardinals, and a rule that manager Joe Maddon doesn't feel has any place in baseball.
Trailing 3-1, the Cubs had runners at first and third with one out. Anthony Rizzo hit a comebacker to Carlos Martinez, who threw to shortstop Aledmys Diaz, who was covering at second, to get Happ. Happ, making his Major League debut, slid under Diaz and past second base and was called out for interference.
"That's game-changing," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "That's a tough play, too, because the shortstop, he did come up to make the throw, which I think was the argument. I think it's widely thought that you have to throw, but the guy is getting hammered. You're not going to throw the ball. That was everything that they've talked about trying to eliminate from the game with going through the bag like almost a barrel roll. Fortunately, nobody was hurt, and that call definitely shut down some momentum."
The Cubs would disagree with Matheny. Maddon challenged the ruling, but after a review, the call was confirmed, and the inning ended with a double play. The replay official determined that because Happ didn't remain on the base, he impeded the fielder and violated Rule 6.01(j).
That prompted Maddon to express his feelings after the game.
"I have no idea why these rules are a part of our game," Maddon said. "That had a tremendous impact on today's game, where outs are rewarded based on a fabricated rule. It's created under the umbrella of safety. You slide directly over the bag and you're called out where there's no chance for the runner to be thrown out at first, and there was nothing egregiously dangerous on the part of our runner.
"Don't give me hyperbole and office-created rules about reaching the bag. When you're sliding, and you have momentum, you keep going. There was no malicious intent whatsoever.
"The rule does not belong in the game. I'm not blaming the umpires. I cannot disagree more with the spirit of the rule."
Maddon felt William Fowler's slide in the Cardinals' first was more dangerous than Happ's slide. The Cubs' manager wasn't alone.
"There was nothing malicious about [Happ's] slide," Cubs starter Jonathan Lester said. "He slid three inches past the bag, and they got a double play. The rule was meant to be for guys making dirty slides, sliding late, taking guys out. There was nothing wrong with that slide whatsoever.
"I told Happ in the dugout, 'Next time, you do the exact same thing.' That's baseball, man. We're out there playing with a bunch of pansies now. I'm over this [darn] slide rule and replaying if it's too far and all this other [nonsense]. We're all men out there, grown men. They've turned double plays their whole lives. They know how to get out of the way."
Happ admitted that he did slide past the bag.
"That's the rules," Happ said. "If you can't hold onto the bag, then it's interference. It's unfortunate, but that's what happens."