Coghlan’s slightly dusty takeout slide

Without any question, the most surprising thing about the Pirates’ success this season has been the sterling play of rookie Jung Ho Kang, who began the season as a question mark on the bench but has become, purely in terms of production per game, his team’s best player.

So you can imagine what Pirates fans thought Thursday afternoon when, in the middle of yet another loss to the Cubs, Chris Coghlan’s takeout slide at second base knocked Kang out of the game.

Watch the play here:

It all happens so quickly … and then, in the replays, so slowly. And both speeds can be deceptive. When you watch the play in real speed, it might seem perfectly routine. When you watch the play in slow motion, it might seem that Coghlan was aiming for Kang’s shins, maybe trying to hurt him.

As you’d probably guess, I don’t think the "truth" is somewhere in the middle.

Coghlan’s slide was perfectly legal. And I don’t just mean it’s acceptable; I mean that it’s well within the actual rules, which unfortunately the umpires too often don’t enforce. At the 1:15 mark, you can see that Coghlan was on the ground with the base well within reach. Was his right leg in the air? Sure. But in the World of Baseball circa 2015, it’s the infielder’s responsibility to somehow avoid that leg.

I will admit that I know nothing about how the game’s played in South Korea, but Kang sure looks like he just found himself in an unfamiliar situation, which is understandable considering this was just his 49th start at shortstop in a major-league game.

It’s just one of those unfortunate things. Having said that, I wouldn’t be opposed to a modification of the rules that makes the area around second base even less dangerous for middle infielders. But in the absence of such a modification, it’s hard to see much wrong with Coghlan’s slide.