Playoff baseball has only been going on for a little over a week, but fans and commentators alike have proclaimed 2015 as one of the most exciting playoffs in years. In lieu of the usual sports banter about the spectacular plays, dramatic pitching duels, and exhilarating finishes, the topic of most conversations has been the slide.
In game 2 of the NLDS, Los Angeles Dodger second baseman Chase Utley slid hard into New York Mets shortstop, Ruben Tejada, with the intention of breaking up the double play. He succeeded in breaking up the double play—as well as the right leg of Tejada. The Mets are now without their shortstop and their fans are calling for Utley’s head.
As expected, Dodger fans are defending Utley, calling it strictly “a baseball play.”
Mets fans and players saw the play from a very different perspective. Veteran outfielder Michael Cuddyer described the play as a “tackle,” rather than a slide. After reviewing the play a number of times, I can’t help but agree with Cuddyer’s analysis.
I am a strong proponent of some good old-fashioned, rough and tumble baseball. I have always been a fan of hard-nosed players who work as hard as they can to help their team get the win. But what Chase Utley did was not only dirty, but borderline malicious. His one goal was to take out the player who was doing his job.
When the stakes are this high, plays like these can’t happen. Chase Utley deserves a much steeper punishment than the measly one game suspension, which he turned down, or the two game suspension Utley later appealed.