Joe Maddon on Anthony Rizzo slide ruling by MLB: 'I believe I'm right'

PITTSBURGH -- On second thought, the slide wasn't legal after all.

That was the finding from Major League Baseball after it reviewed Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo's eighth-inning takeout of Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Elias Diaz in Monday's game. Diaz subsequently threw the ball into right field while attempting a double play, allowing two runs to score. Chicago won, 7-0.

The play was reviewed, and the call on the field was upheld.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle disagreed with the call at the time and was ejected. On Monday, it was Cubs skipper Joe Maddon who was upset.

Maddon and MLB Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre spoke on Tuesday.

"It was a good baseball play," an upset Maddon said. "It was interpreted the next day as being wrong, which I totally find incongruent."

The league determined Rizzo altered his path to slide into Diaz, who went down as the ball sailed into right field. The umpires found Rizzo did not alter his path enough for the Cubs to be penalized.

"The umpires got it right," Maddon said. "It's almost like a doctor reading an MRI. You might get two different opinions with the same set of information. ... I will not back down from that. I believe I'm right."

Hurdle was asked if it's better or worse the league agreed with him, considering it came after the fact.

"I don't have any idea how it could be worse," he said. "Life is not fair, sport isn't fair. You play on. ... What's most important, from my perspective, is that we've let the industry know that this particular slide was illegal. For the sake of the catchers."

Maddon said it's incumbent on catchers to get out of the way and wouldn't budge from the notion that Rizzo did anything wrong. Unprompted, he defended his position, even if the situation was reversed.

"I'm here to tell the group that believes if Willson [Contreras] got knocked down, or [Chris] Gimenez, that I would have reacted differently, you're so wrong, you're so wrong," Maddon said. "It's not true. I played the position. It's almost like a quarterback. You have to have a clock right there. You have to know what's coming at you and get out of the way. It's as simple as that. Anyone else trying to give you a different explanation, it's fabricated."

Rizzo was probably the least emotional about the league's assessment. He says he won't change how he slides to break up a double play and was happy MLB stressed it wasn't an egregious play.

"The league, 100 percent, made it clear it wasn't a dirty play," Rizzo said. "We're taught as baseball players to break up double plays. Obviously there are new rules and guidelines. It is what it is. I'd like to move on now."

Rizzo was booed in his first at-bat Tuesday, and responded by doubling to right field. He later hit a home run in the Cubs' 8-6 win.

"It makes it more fun to play,'' Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward said of the crowd booing Rizzo. "The call didn't go their way and I'd be upset too if a call didn't go my way.''

Hurdle joked any possible retaliation would be hard to assess.

"The interesting part now is the player who had the hard slide is also a player who was hit 30 times two years ago, 24 times last year," he said. "You need to pitch him hard and inside. If you ding him tonight [Tuesday], who knows where it goes."

Maddon was critical of many who analyzed the play in the 24 hours since it happened, but complimented former major league player Eric Byrnes for his take on MLB Network.

"He was the only one that had half a brain in regards to analyzing that whole play," Maddon said.

The Cubs manager called most everything else said about the play "inane." He referenced knowing several Pirates.

"I bet under the same set of circumstances they would have done the same exact thing," Maddon said.

Hurdle is just glad it's over.

"I'm glad we came to some conclusion and closure on it," he said.