THE SLIDE THAT CHANGED BASEBALL

T

Last October, during Game 2 of the National League Division Series, Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley slid into second base, hoping to break up a double play. He did more than that, he changed the game of baseball.

The slide, which umpires said was legal, is not — anymore. Last month, MLB instituted Rule 6.01(j).

It reads:

“… slides on potential double plays will require runners to make a bonafide attempt to reach and remain on the base. Runners may still initiate contact with the fielder as a consequence of an otherwise permissible slide. A runner will be specifically prohibited from changing his pathway to the base or utilizing a ‘roll block’ for the purpose of initiating contact with the fielder.”

If, in fact, the new rule was inspired by Utley, as many believe it is, he should have received a hefty fine or extended suspension for breaking Mets shortstop Ruben Tejeda’s left leg. Right? The facts are this:

  • MLB believed Utley’s slide were egregious enough to issue a suspension
  • The slide, considered a legal play by umpires, resulted in one player breaking his leg
  • The league later determined the slide dangerous enough to change the rules of the game

Instead, Utley received a two-game suspension (which he appealed) and was subsequently allowed to play until the league heard the case.

The NLDS came and went without a decision. So did the National League Championship Series, World Series, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year and Winter. Finally, four months later, after considerable deliberation between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association, MLB announced it would expunge Utley’s record.

Who cares, really?

Tejada doesn’t, and he suffered the most. What value does a two-game suspension to 37-year old part-time infielder have now? Zero. The modest suspension would have no impact on Utley or the Dodgers.

The outcome is fair and just, but not quite over — yet. There is unfinished business between Utley and the Mets, and I have a sneaky suspicion, the case of Tejada v. Utley will be resume on the field when the Dodgers are scheduled to visit Citi Field May 27-29.

Expect payback in the form of a 95+ fastball to the small of Utley’s back.

Case dismissed.

Full disclosure: I am a New York Mets fan. Personally, I don’t like what Utley did. Despite the umpires ruling that the play was legal, I disagree. Utley slid late and he was out of the baseline.

EMAIL ALERTS
I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )
Thank you for visiting my website! If you enjoyed what you've read, I hope you will consider signing up for email alerts. I will send you an email when new content is posted.
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

About the author

John Strubel

Hi. My name is John Strubel. Thanks for visiting my website. I write primarily about my passion: baseball. In addition, I occasionally publish posts and podcasts related to sports media, journalism and technology impacting the industry. You can also connect with me on social media @johnstrubel.

Add Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.