The Los Angeles Dodgers will begin their east coast road trip with a 3-game series vs. the New York Mets. One of the storylines entering Friday’s game is Julio Urias making his MLB debut. Another is how Dodgers Chase Utley will be received by Mets fans.
For those who need a refresher, in game 2 of the 2015 National League Divisional Series between the Dodgers and the Mets, Dodgers 2nd baseman Howie Kendrick hit a soft line drive through the middle of the Mets infield. The rest, as they say, is history.
Dodgers infielder Chase Utley went in hard to 2nd base and collided with Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada. He broke up the double play, allowing the Dodgers to tie the game and eventually go on and win. But, in the process, he also broke the leg of Tejada and caused a national debate about the necessity of take out slides in baseball.
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In the moment, opinions of the play were split.
If that was a superstar shortstop we would have a Tulo Rule being enforced tomorrow
— Justin Upton (@JUST_JUP) October 11, 2015
Always called him one of my toughest teammates…Utley showing why I always called him a winner!!! #MLBPlayoffs
— Shane Victorino (@ShaneVictorino) October 11, 2015
But backlash from the league came quickly after the season ended, as they handed down a two game suspension for Utley (which ended up being overturned) and also implemented a new rule, conveniently known as the “Utley Rule.”
The new rule states:
“A runner sliding into second has to make “a bona fide attempt” not just to slide into the base, but also to “remain on the base” as well as “Baserunners can no longer use a “roll block” on an infielder to break up a double play.”
So with the Dodgers heading to Citi Field for the first this season, Utley is fully prepared for anything but a warm welcome. The Mets fans will happily oblige as they not only have a distaste for Utley because of the now infamous slide, but also due to his years in a Philadelphia Phillies uniform.
As if there wasn’t going to be enough attention on the game already with the debut of Dodgers 19 year old pitching prospect Julio Urias, Utley merely adds fire to the flames.
— Mike DiGiovanna (@MikeDiGiovanna) May 26, 2016
The Los Angeles Times writer Andy McCullough reported that Utley’s family received death threats in New York after the incident. Utley knows full well what is waiting for him when he steps onto the field in the big apple on Friday night, saying “I imagine the fans will let me have it.”
When asked if he wants to make a point to quiet the crowd, Utley added “I enjoy winning … So whatever that does, I’m all for.” Either way, it will surely be a moment when he first steps onto grass under the lights of Citi Field.
The Dodgers open their 3 game series with the Mets tomorrow at 4:10 PM PT, with Julio Urias making his MLB Debut going against Jacob deGrom, who owns a record of 3-1 with a 3.07 ERA.
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