The following statement may get me barred from the Chase Utley Wall of Honor celebration. But . . .
. . . that slide that broke Ruben Tejada’s leg Saturday night? Dirty baseball, no question about it. I know the Cro-Magnons among us (hello, Pete Rose) will rant that a man’s game should not be sissified. But Utley’s intent was purely to crash the pivot man and interfere with the fielder.
That’s against the rules [(5.09 (a) (13) if you want to look it up] and it knocked out a player not just for this post-season, but into 2016 as well. Utley’s two-game suspension is justified.
Just as MLB changed the rules for bowling over catchers after Buster Posey’s broken leg in 2011, they’ll do the same for middle infielders this off-season. Bet on it. Tejada is the second shortstop to be maimed in the past month on a double-play pivot, following Pittsburgh’s Jung Ho Kang.
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Hey folks, it ain’t a contact sport.
I love Utley for what he brought to the Phils over 13 years in both performance and style. The old cliché of “he plays the game the right way” was written for a heady, intense player like Utley.
But not here. While his takeout ultimately helped his team win, that’s only because the umpires botched the moment. They should have cited interference and called a double-play. They were as wrong as Utley.
Immediately, there were calls for the Mets to settle the situation by going after Utley in the next game. As if a 95 mile-per-hour fastball to the ribs settles anything.
You may disagree. But, trust me, baseball’s ridiculous code of unwritten rules isn’t going to survive long into the future. And Utley’s dirty play accelerated its extinction.