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Utley Play Hard But Clean

As a Mets fan I hate what happened to Ruben Tejada on Saturday night. Tejada was taken out on a hard slide by Chase Utley. Utley was trying to break up a double play but slid into Tejada’s plant leg and not only took him out of the play but took him out of the season. Tejada suffered a broken leg.

After some deliberation Utley was suspended for 2 games (games 3 and 4 of the NLDS to be played tonight and tomorrow night). Utley is appealing the suspension and MLB is hoping to hear the appeal today so they can finalize a decision before game time.

I’m going to take what will probably be an unpopular stance as a Mets fan and say that Utley should not be suspended. Was the slide hard? Yes. Was it against the rules? No.

I don’t like that Utley slid so hard. I don’t like that Tejada got hurt. But these kinds of slides have been happening since the game was created. There is nothing in the rules that prevents them. As long as the runner is in the baseline, which at second base is defined as being within arms reach of the base, the runner can do what he wants. There is an exception when there is intent to injure but I don’t think this was Utley’s intention. The fact that Utley didn’t end up touching the base does not prove intent to injure. Utley mere meant to take Tejada out of the play.

Though I don’t think there was anything against the rules with the play I do think this case should lead MLB to reexamine the rules for plays at second base this offseason. Considering the possibility of injury on such plays it is comparable to plays at home plate. When San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey was injured in a home plate collision the rules for those plays were reviewed and revised. I would hope that MLB will likewise review the rules at 2nd base (and even 3rd base) and revise them if necessary.

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