I get it. We are a reactive society in which everyone can express their opinion in 140 characters or less. We immediately react and demand someone do something and that makes us feel good. I get it. Sports leagues are no different than any company, business or local shop. An outcry is heard and they will react.
Chase Utley of the Los Angeles Dodgers and his late slide into Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada during Game 2 of their Division Series matchup caused a lot of folks to react. Now I’d like to think that we can all agree that the slide was late. He started to go down when he was at second base. With that said this isn’t the first time an infielder has been taken out by a runner trying to break up a double play.
With all the camera angles at our disposal and seeing the injury to Tejada it only made things worse. Baseball players are taught at every level to break up a potential double play. There is however a right and a wrong way to do it. Simply put the umpires should have determined that on the field and called Utley out. That didn’t happen though. Now Major League Baseball has decided to suspend Utley for the next two games of the series.
He will appeal, but I’m willing to bet that baseball wants this to go away and fast. They suspended him for the two games that are going to be played in New York. Can you imagine Utley coming to bat at any point in those games and the anticipation that he is going to be plunked. The fans at Citi Field would certainly condone it, but the league doesn’t want a benches clearing brawl to ensue.
Joe Torre can say publicly that he believed it was a late slide and that’s why the league is punishing him. Yes, it was late. No I don’t think that Utley meant to break his leg. Just don’t beat around the bush Joe and simply say you don’t want an incident in New York.
The play at the plate with the catcher no longer able to block the plate still rubs me the wrong way. I understand it, but the only reason they enacted the rule is because of what happened to Buster Posey. A rule change seems to be coming with this incident at Dodger Stadium.
Baseball has a chance though to be real specific about this rule. If you slide that late to the bag, it’s an automatic out. That’s all there is to it. You’re welcome.