Let's cut to it: The Chase Utley slide against the Mets was interference, plain and simple. Don't give me that "these are men and they play a man's sport" nonsense. A slide like that not only shouldn't be allowed, it isn't allowed.
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Dodgers 2B Chase Utley suspended for #NLDS Games 3 and 4 as a result of his illegal slide in the 7th inning Saturday.- MLB (@MLB) October 12, 2015
Utley will appeal the suspension, and the hearing will take place Monday.
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This rule was cited by Joe Torre in suspending Utley:
5.09 (a) (13) (Rule 6.05, 2014)
A batter is out when --
(m) A preceding runner shall, in the umpire's judgment, intentionally interfere with a fielder who is attempting to catch a thrown ball or to throw a ball in an attempt to complete any play:
Rule 5.09 (a) (13) Comment: The objective of this rule is to penalize the offensive team for deliberate, unwarranted, unsportsmanlike action by the runner in leaving the baseline for the obvious purpose of crashing the pivot man on a double play, rather than trying to reach the base. Obviously this is an umpire's judgment play.
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If you are questioning whether Utley was trying to "intentionally interfere" with the "obvious purpose of crashing the pivot man on a double play," I would question your eyesight or your baseball judgment. Utley began to touch the ground at the far end of the second base bag.
A clean slide entails a player sliding before the bag, and close enough to touch the bag. Utley was so far beyond the bag, he failed to touch the bag with his hand as he slid through. The slide was not wide -- he was within an arm's length of the bag -- but it was past the bag enough to preclude him from even swiping the bag with his hand. I love the way Utley has played the game for years, but this was a dirty slide, a slide obviously against the rules.
The proper call here is interference: Utley should have been out, and so should the runner trying to score. The inning should have been over. I don't need to see if Tejada touched the base, or if Utley touched the base. Calling the rule properly, the inning would be over.
This is not just my reaction to a big play in the playoffs. I have, for years, railed against violent collisions on the bases -- at home plate, and at second base. Only two seasons ago, Major League Baseball properly implemented a culture-changing rule that has all but eliminated what it deemed "egregious" collisions at home plate. On MLB Network, I have steadfastly applauded this effort, even in the face of resistance from some players and ex-players. It was time to leave the violent 19th-century style of play behind. MLB was able to make plays to the plate much, much safer immediately, from day one of the 2014 season. It's beyond me why it hasn't become an issue at second base as well.
There was a similar play only three weeks ago when Chris Coghlan of the Cubs took out Jung Ho Kang of the Pirates.
I have read and heard that this was a "clean, hard play". I think people have lost their minds. Coghlan went out of this way to deliberately break up the double play, going wide of the base and kicking up his right leg to hit Kang. If this is a clean play, it must be done without "obvious intent" to break up a double play. If you think that slide is within the rules, can I ask you what Coghlan is doing with his right leg? Is that his natural slide? Kicking out his leg so it collides with the other player just below the knee? This is a leg-whip. If you think that's not an "obvious intent," I would advise you to stay away from sharp things and busy traffic. Your judgment is at a dangerous level of denial.
Both Ruben Tejada and Jung Ho Kang have broken legs because they were trying to do their jobs in big games. If a baserunner slides hard and clean before the bag, and straight into it, those are the hazards of playing in a Major League infield. But they should not be left out there defenseless to be harmed by runners looking to gain an advantage. A rule had to be enacted to make the professional games safer for catchers. It's a rule that worked. The rule for infielders is already there, clear as can be, and in black and white. On Saturday night, it needed to be enforced.