The Mets lost to the Dodgers 5-2 in game two of the NLDS last night, a game which hinged on a vicious slide by Chase Utley which injured Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada. The Dodgers went ahead in the 7th inning thanks to the play, and Tejada, who suffered a broken leg, will miss the rest of the playoffs. Utley is now the most hated man in NYC, to put it mildly.
B E N G H A Z I DO NOT LIKE CHASE UTLEY
— Rembert Browne (@rembert) October 11, 2015
that was a really weak attempt at a slide by utley😡😡😡😡
— Jose Reyes (@lamelaza_7) October 11, 2015
Here's the play in question:
Chase Utley is trash dot GIF. pic.twitter.com/UxLCr781j9
— Eric Simon (@AmazinAvenue) October 11, 2015
Here's how much the play shifted the game:
The ruling on Chase Utley’s slide - and the aftermath - put Game 2 solidly in the Dodgers’ favor. pic.twitter.com/nW4UI6lRWw
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 11, 2015
And here is but a sampling of the reactions from fans, sportswriters, and other players:
— Adam Rubin (@AdamRubinESPN) October 11, 2015
Just watched last 3 innings of NYM-LA - can't remember a cheaper play at 2B then that Utley slide. He should have just used a 2-by-4.
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) October 11, 2015
Based on that slide, Utley is still very much a Philadelphian.
— Questlove Gomez (@questlove) October 11, 2015
WATCH: Chase Utley's vicious slide during last night's Mets game pic.twitter.com/KFC0gj8TbV
— Rob Tornoe (@RobTornoe) October 11, 2015
The slide was late. Utley barreled into him AFTER the bag and hit him high. The intent was to take him OUT. Horrible. @Mets
— Andy Kindler (@AndyKindler) October 11, 2015
100% correct RT @jmand1 Espn's Alex Cora with harshest words yet on Utley play: "It was a dirty tackle."
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) October 11, 2015
Pedro Martinez, who once threatened to throw at Jorge Posada's head, believes Chase Utley was reckless & out of line. Got it.
— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) October 11, 2015
And if you think any of that is harsh, then you haven't seen the Post's take on it. Revenge apparently is a dish best served with a baseball to the body.
If Utley thought he was detested, despised and reviled in New York already, he has no idea what he’s in for. You thought it was ugly when John Rocker returned to the scene of his verbal hate crimes? Maybe you remember Pete Rose leveling Buddy Harrelson back in the ’73 playoffs, and the way he was treated the rest of his career at Shea Stadium? Those were Hallmark cards compared to what’s coming.
After the game, Utley told reporters he never intended to hurt Tejada: "You're taught from a young age to try to break up double plays. I think that's winning baseball." Mets players weren't as sure: "Only Chase knows what his intent was,” said David Wright. "There’s a way to play the game hard. In my opinion he wasn’t anywhere near the bag." Mets infielder Kelly Johnson asked, "I want to know why there's not something in place to protect us. And not jump into, break fibulas and knock people out of games."
Utley was out three times: 1) willful interference 2) neighborhood play 3) never touched bag, abandoned field #FireChrisGuccione
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) October 11, 2015
Outfielder Michael Cuddyer called it a "tackle," and manager Terry Collins summed it up: "It broke my shortstop’s leg. That’s all I know."
By 2020 Utley will charge down the line spraying bullets https://t.co/5Yp9mMEZRT
— Knicks Memes (@KnicksMemes) October 11, 2015
Yahoo Sports summarized what happened with the call on the field:
The umpires did not judge Utley's actions to be excessive in a reckless sense, nor interfering in a legal sense. In fact, after review, they declared Utley to be safe at second base. Tejada, for all he'd surrendered, had narrowly missed the bag with his right foot, the one he'd then planted in order to attempt a throw to first base as Utley tore into the leg above it. There'd be no throw. There'd be no "neighborhood play" protection, as Guccione judged the flip from second baseman Murphy had taken Tejada away from the base. There'd only be a replacement shortstop, and the seeds of a rally that would bring in four runs for the Dodgers, and debate over the spirit of Utley's actions.
MLB was quick to defend the ump's ruling on the controversial play—you can read some more detailed explanations of the call here, and an explanation of interference rules here. But putting aside the technicalities, as Sports On Earth put it, "the simple truth is that Utley broke Tejada's leg, and the Dodgers were then rewarded when the initial call was reversed upon review. I understand that Dodgers fans must be happy that it all worked out in favor of their team, but there's a kind of baseball that's enjoyable and a kind that's sickening to witness and last night's version skewed straight to the latter in a blink."
Utley's been on receiving end of 1000s of those slides at 2nd. He knows where the line btwn dirty and hardnosed is. Doesn't mean he cares— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) October 11, 2015
Although he said he did not think the slide was a violation or interference, MLB Chief Officer Joe Torre did promise to review the play, with the possibility of Utley being disciplined after the fact. "I hate to think Utley tried to hurt somebody,” Torre said. “It certainly was late. That concerns me. The lateness of the slide...I have to determine if I thought it was excessive, I guess is the word, on the slide. Not that you shouldn't slide hard, but as I said, just the late slide is probably the only thing that's in question right now."
What would Torre be saying if Utley's slide broke Jeter's leg? We'd be having an all-night candlelight vigil. Utley needs to be disciplined
— Rich Coutinho (@coutinho9) October 11, 2015
Several commentators—including ones on ESPN—have argued that even if the call was correct, it is a sure sign that MLB needs to change that particular rule. SB Nation sees the rule change as inevitable: "We'll look back at articles like this in five years and laugh. They'll be the tattoo you got when you were 18, the quote in your yearbook. What were we thinking? How could it possibly be okay to obliterate a player at one base, but not the other? How did it make sense to risk career-threatening injuries just because that's the way it's always been?"
Lots of instant reaction to Chase Utley's slide. pic.twitter.com/xwiZY7c23j
— Baseball Tonight (@BBTN) October 11, 2015
Game 3 will take place at Citi Field on Monday. Despite a lot of fans calling for retaliation against Utley, Cuddyer said it wasn't in the cards: "It’s the playoffs, the best retribution for me is to win the series," he said. "Physical retribution, that’s another time another place, another series, another year."