Chase Utley’s hard takeout slide on Ruben Tejada in Game 2 of the National League Division Series between the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers is currently the biggest story of the Major League Baseball postseason. Whether you believe it was clean or dirty, it had a profound impact on the outcome of the game. With Tejada now sidelined with a fractured leg, it will also have a profound impact on the rest of the playoffs.
There’s little debate that Utley started his slide late and had no intention of sliding into the base. Utley, a second baseman who has found himself on the other end of this play hundreds, if not thousands of times, claims he was just playing hard.
The Mets’ frustration is understandable. Adding to that frustration is the fact that something similar had happened back in 2010 when Utley was with the Philadelphia Phillies.
David Wright, who had a problem with last night’s slide on “many” different levels, didn’t care for this one either.
"Asked if it was a clean play, Wright responded: “You can ask him. He’s a second baseman. If he wants guys sliding like that into him, then it’s perfectly fine. He knows how to play the game. If he doesn’t mind guys coming in like that when he’s turning a double play, then we don’t have any problem with it. It’s a legal slide. It’s within the rules. But somebody is going to get hurt. So I guess that’s a better question for him. “Chase, he plays the game hard. He plays the game passionately. But there’s a thin line between going out there and playing the game hard and going out there trying to get somebody hurt. That’s a thin line. Nobody is going to push us around. We’re going to have our teammate’s back. I think cooler heads prevailed, but we’ve got to let them know that over on our side we didn’t appreciate it and that we’re going to go out there and have our teammates’ backs. I think our bench let him know. As far as I’m concerned, it’s done. We move on. We’ll reevaluate the way we go into second base.”"
Five years later, we’re still waiting that re-evaluation. The latest Utley-Tejada collision may finally be the impetus. This, of course, is little consolation to the Mets.