Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Vicious. Malicious. Dirty. These are just handful of the accusatory adjectives used by the media, current and former players, to describe the slide of Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Chase Utley into second base on Saturday night.

Not only did the umpires not determine Utley’s slide to be egregious at the time, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly successfully challenged the out call. However, Utley was suspended for two games by Major League Baseball on Sunday evening.

It was Game 2, bottom of the seventh, two on, one out, and the Dodgers were trailing, 2-1. Utley had just looped a singled into right field, advanced Kiké Hernandez to third base. Howie Kendrick hit a hard grounder up the middle directly at second baseman Daniel Murphy, who was positioned right behind the bag as part of a shift.

Murphy’s feed to shortstop Ruben Tejada was at an awkward angle for a natural attempt at a double play, which forced Tejada to turn his back on the runner. Utley, being the fierce competitor that he is, did what anyone in his situation would have done — attempt to break up the double play.

Had he given up and the Mets complete the double play, the inning ends. And whether the Dodgers rally in the eighth or ninth is unknown.

Did the 36-year-old veteran execute his slide perfectly? Probably not. Are we to presume on the malevolence of his intentions? Absolutely not. Only Utley knows his intentions and regardless, this slide turned out to be the fulcrum of the Dodgers’ comeback.

Let’s get a few things straight. My intention is not to downplay Tejada’s broken fibula. Correspondingly, Utley’s objective was not to spitefully injure the shortstop, and it is shameful to inflict such accusations on him.

According to the 2015 Official Baseball Rules, section 8.03 states that an umpire’s position has one overarching priority to, “take full charge of, and be responsible for, the proper conduct of the game.” Straying an arm’s-length away from the bag, in either direction, to prevent an infielder from completing a relay throw is perfectly permissible.

Baseball is a game replete with rules and those rules should not be tampered with. It is also a game that requires strategy, finesse, and the zeal to win.

Injuries are ubiquitous to every sport. It is the nature of the beast. Tejada’s injury warrants our sympathy and condolences, but this should not be at the expense of suspending a player for playing the game of baseball to the best of his abilities. Let the boys play.

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About The Author

Deborah is currently a junior Communications journalism major at College of The Canyons in Santa Clarita, CA. She interned for a year at SCVTV and served as their first high school sideline reporter. Deborah grew up playing sports her entire life and has always had a passion for writing. She plans to attend the University of Tennessee in the Spring.

27 Responses

  1. Fred [email protected]

    This would have blown over if Utley didn’t have a well earned rep as a dirty player. He should have been suspended for remainder of all playoff games. Maybe he might start playing clean. Doubt it. He’s a dirty player.

    Reply
    • seabee95

      I don’t hear any non mets players saying what you are saying. See foxsports page with Frank Thomas. This is the rule. You can’t change how you enforce a rule in the playoffs just because someone got hurt. You don’t have a clue if he is a dirty player. You just don’t like what happened.

      Reply
      • the truth

        Go read Tommy Lasorda comments. The Mets players have all said it was dirty. The Dodgers will pay for it. The question is when. Imagine being in the batters box facing a guy who throws in the very high nineties.

      • seabee95

        Great, Lasorda wants the rules changed. I agree. It still doesn’t change the fact that MLB isn’t following their own rules and haven’t been in the enforcement. You can’t enforce on one player and not on the other. That is what the union is going to argue. As far as what a Mets pitcher does to a Dodger’s player, standard is if you hit someone intentionally they are suspended for five games normally. See that is an on going standard. You aren’t advocating for a Mets pitcher to go head hunting are you? I would hope you wouldn’t be so shallow in wanting that. It is one thing to plunk a guy in the butt or the ribs. You don’t do it with a high 90’s fast ball either. That is when people get hurt. As for what the Mets players say, who cares. If the roles were reversed the Dodgers players would say the same thing. You have to talk to those not involved and don’t have a beef. Hard concept for fans deeply emotional about their teams.

      • skyvue

        All the former players and managers on the postgame show that night said it was an inappropriate play — too late, too high, no pretense of touching the bag, a rolling tackle not a slide. Chipper Jones has said so, too. And so have many others. I suspect you haven’t looked very hard to find any players criticizing Utley. They are EASY to find.

      • seabee95

        I suspect that you are just as lazy as you claim me to be about finding what you want to find in the way of supporting Utley. Problem with everything you say about people being against Utley is that the rules aren’t being followed and punished evenly. This slide happens ALL the time. “IF” Torre was enforcing this rule even when someone wasn’t hurt then it wouldn’t be an issue. Frank Thomas is absolutely correct, it hasn’t been enforced before and you don’t start in the playoffs. You go into next season and let all the teams know, from here on out this is the deal. That is how Utley will beat this suspension. You don’t have to like it, it just is fact. Torre didn’t suspend Lawrie of the A’s when he did the exact same thing to Escobar of the Royals back in April. Torre has to say even in his punishment. He can’t just do this because its the playoffs. I told you were you can find players backing my opinion. I guess when it is your side I have to go find it myself. What ever.

      • Blue

        Nomar, Jerry Hairston, and Cal Ripken Jr have said it was fine. Dang. A couple middle infielders that can see the real problem-turning your back to the runner.

      • Jeff

        This is baseball right? I was just wondering if we were playing Farmville or something

  2. Tommy2cat

    Had Utley attempted to touch 2nd base, and had he attempted his slide before passing the bag, then maybe the slide could be considered “hard-nosed”. He did neither.

    Reply
    • Matthew Moreno

      There’s an angle that shows Chase Utley’s left hand either grazed the bag or just missed it. At minimum he was within arm’s length.

      Reply
      • skyvue

        The point was never that he wasn’t within arm’s length (though no, he never tried to touch the base — please don’t insult our intelligence). He didn’t start the “slide” (read: tackle) until he was at or past the bag. Can even the most fervent of Dodger fans pretend that’s how a legitimate slide — even one intended to disrupt a double play — is executed? No, of course not.

      • Tommy2cat

        That angle was from a Go-Pro camera jammed up Utley’s @ss. Du glaubst das nicht alleine! lol

      • Tommy2cat

        Beyond that – he never attempted to touch 2nd base – clearly, that was not his intent. It was a cowardly act in which he cross-body blocked a fielder who’s leg was planted and back to the runner… “If interference is committed by a runner with the obvious intent of preventing a double play, the batter-runner will be called out in addition to the runner who committed the interference.” The Umps blew the call in a BIG way… truly laughable.

        BTW – I’m not even saying the play changed the outcome of the game… In my view, it was one of those games where the Mets scored early and would not have scored again. But there’s no rational defense that can be extended in Utley’s direction, unless your eyes are in complete denial.

    • seabee95

      The rules clearly state they must be able, not must have tried. They have the right to attempt to break up any double play. Understand the rule before complaining he didn’t do what he needed to.

      Reply
      • Tommy2cat

        “If interference is committed by a runner with the obvious intent of preventing a double play, the batter-runner will be called out in addition to the runner who committed the interference.” Dick-brain…

      • seabee95

        Awe, did I hurt your little feelings? Problem is they DIDN’T call interference. Why? Because they can only call that on “neighborhood plays”. The neighborhood play is your regular double play, which this was not. Tejada had his back to the runner and was not likely to get a double play. I know, rules. They suck when they don’t back your opinion up. Therefore the runner at first is safe because there was no play and the runner at second is safe because he didn’t tag the base or the runner and since the call was out by the umpire the play is dead at that time. According to rules, if no one tags the runner out and a replay shows that runner wasn’t tagged and base wasn’t tagged then the runner is safe. Therefore the call on the field was correct. Now, the umpires could have tossed Utley for the slide and allowed a pinch runner. They didn’t and as Torre put it, that was their judgment call. By the way, I love how you wrote your name at the end of your comment.

      • seabee95

        Awe, you edited your post. Why? I liked it when you signed your name. It is funny that you assume that my off-season is here. Is that because you assume that I am a Dodger’s fan? Not sure why that is, because I don’t agree with your extremely flawed opinion? Your argument centers around “interference”. Problem is that “A” interference wasn’t called and “B” Utley never kept Tejada from getting to the bag to make the play. In addition since this wasn’t a route play, judged by the umpires (the ones that matter) neighborhood play doesn’t come into play. So while Utley’s whole intent may have been to break up the double play, because it wasn’t a route play your whole theory is just an opinion with no validity. Don’t worry, I respect the Mets as they are a really good team, you on the other hand are just wrong. Why is it that you never have the stones to tell me where I am wrong? Oh yeah, because I am not.

      • seabee95

        Sucks to be wrong doesn’t it? You can’t back your flawed opinion. So instead of showing me how I could be wrong you just say later after editing your comments. Sweet.

      • seabee95

        I love how I told you the rules state he must be able to not must have tried and you throw back something that has nothing to do with the play. I now know why your mom named you Dick Brain.

  3. skyvue

    I’m glad to see that Ms. Nelson is still in school. She has plenty of time yet to learn to report the facts and not her fantasies.

    “Did the 36-year-old veteran execute his slide perfectly? Probably not.” This proves Ms. Nelson a master of understating the obvious. It was not even a slide. Slides don’t begin at (or even past) the bag. They never have. And a veteran of Utley’s tenure and experience doesn’t inadvertently or accidentally start his “slide” at the bag. That was an intentional mugging of Tejada, as everyone outside of Southern California (and a few loyalists in the Philadelphia area) have readily acknowledged.

    “Is the sky blue? Probably”

    “Is water wet? Some say so.”

    “Are Dodgers fans (and the student journalists who pander to them) in serious denial? It’s been suggested in some circles, yes.”

    Reply
    • seabee95

      Do yourself a favor, go watch the top angle of this slide. He started his slide prior to the bag. Secondly, due to Tejada not being on the bag, by MLB rules he is entitled to the bag. As for intentional? Please, he wasn’t trying to “mug” Tejada. His second baseman left him out to dry. It is all good. Funny how being a Mets fan makes you think you are smart enough to invent facts. It is beautiful. Im from Tampa and love my Rays so go ahead, lets see what your lame excuse is as to why I am able to see things differently that you. I mean, you must have been on here in April calling for Lawrie’s head right? I mean his slide wasn’t any different from Utley’s. Of course he wasn’t suspended. Why? Oh yeah, not the playoffs? Should Utley be suspended? Sure. On the condition that any slide like this ends up with the same result. That isn’t how it is enforced and until they enforce it all the time then you are the one in a fantasy.

      Reply
    • Tamar Love Grande

      It’s an op ed piece, not journalistic reporting. In the latter, facts are key; in the former, opinion — what you call “fantasies” — is what is truly relevant. If you don’t like the story, fine, but insulting its writer is just plain dirty.

      Reply
    • deborah thompson

      I’m sad to see that you’re not still in school because maybe you’d be able to read my name as Thompson not Nelson. 🙂

      I will not argue with you on here, however, that the definition of mugging is “the act of attacking and robbing someone in a public place.”

      Make sure you define your terms next time you spit them out emotionally.

      Reply
  4. Jeff

    If one of the Mets did a similiar slide to break up the play.. this would be a different story

    Reply
    • Jeff

      And I’ve seen slides by Mets and other players for that matter even slide earlier heading straight into the player not even close to the bag. Mets did this past year to Dodger shortstop and no way was he arms length of the bag. Speedy recovery to Tehada, and our Utley served his two game suspension, get over it. Glad he didn’t play in New York because I guarantee some Mets pitcher would have thrown the ball at Utley on purpose and Mets fans would be like” nah, that’s not dirty at all” sssssshhhhhhhhhh

      Reply

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