Howie Kendrick stepped to the plate with runners on the corners and grounded one to the middle of the diamond. In an effort to break up a potential double-play, Chase Utley slid hard into (within somewhat of the vicinity of) second base and took out Ruben Tejada, allowing the tying run to score.
Utley was initially ruled out, but the play was overturned and he was put on second base. Tejada would be carted off the field and head to the hospital with a fractured right fibula.
The Dodgers would go on to score three more runs in the inning and win 5-2, tying the series at 1-1.
Now onto the play (video below).
Was Utley near the base? Kind of, but he slid wayyyyyy late.
Did he ever touch the base? No.
Was he somehow ruled safe? Yes, but that is on the umpiring crew and MLB.
Did Utley do anything that was unheard of in professional baseball? Absolutely not.
Utley has long been known for playing hard and leaving it all on the field. On Saturday night, he had no intentions of changing that.
He did what was needed to put his team in a position to win.
I highly doubt Utley went into second with the intent of breaking anything but the double-play chance, let alone an opposing player's leg.
The issue with this type of play runs deeper than this one instance. Sure MLB has rules that if used on that play would have resulted in Utley being ruled out. They should have.
But, going hard into second base to break up a double-play is something that happens quite often. Probably on average about every game or two (just guessing here).
A few years ago, MLB implemented rules to prevent catchers from being run over after Buster Posey was trucked and injured. That resulted in confusion among players and fans but has ultimately kept catchers from being injured similar to Posey.
That rule does not exist for shortstops and second basemen trying to turn two. Maybe it should, but that is for MLB to decide.
So in the end, was Utley's play dirty or just aggressive?
In my opinion, it was an aggressive play that many players would have made to try and help their team win, especially in the playoffs. It just so happened to turn dirty due to the unfortunate end result of a broken leg for Tejada.
Utley will likely be thrown at if he appears in the next game between the Dodgers and Mets. This is something no one will bat an eye at because "that's how the game is played" or "that's an unwritten rule of baseball."
But if it is OK for pitchers to intentionally throw at a batter, why isn't it OK for a player to intentionally slide hard to break up a double-play?
The issue here isn't with Chase Utley. The issue is MLB allowing these unwritten rules to continue to be used and only caring in the few instances when someone is seriously hurt.
So, don't hate the player, hate the game.
P.S.: I seriously want to reiterate that I feel terrible for Ruben Tejada and hope he recovers quickly.
By: Kyle Babcock
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