By the time you read this the saga of the L.A. Dodgers infielder Chase Utley’s calculated collision into New York Mets infielder Ruben Tejada will have advanced further. Either Utley’s two-game suspension by Major League Baseball will have been upheld, reduced or even eliminated.
It matters not what happens with his appeal.
What matters is what happens next.
With the rules of baseball.
In February 2014 I took a stance on baseball implementing a rule which effectively has changed how catchers and runners now approach each other on a play at the plate. I even pointed out at the time on one instance I played the role of Chase Utley. But I was sixteen. And I never did it again.
But here come the baseball Avengers again…a sequel these bleeding hearts want to release upon us which would fundamentally change the game of baseball once again only because the umpires on the field Saturday night didn’t do their jobs.
Chase Utley is an aggressive (always) and dirty (on occasion) baseball player. I saw him play all his years in Philly. This is Chase. Hell, he did this to Tejada (then a rookie) five years ago although at that time Utley’s action could better pass for the definition of the word “slide.”
On the play in question Saturday night there was no “slide.” There was instead a deliberate intent to break up a double play by any means possible…which in itself means being OK with and taking responsibility for any amount of damage incurred. I keep hearing Chase Utley didn’t mean to hurt Ruben Tejada. Yeah, he did. It was the only way he deemed it possible to break up a double play. And may I add…a double play a veteran ballplayer like Utley should have known was not even possible.
Chase could have been called out not once but twice in my opinion…once for leaving the baseline in his side view mirror and once for interfering with an opposing player trying to make a play. Both these rules are already on the books. Both Utley and the batter should have been called out. A double play. End of controversy.
For those who say there have been “similar” collisions at second base with no penalties I’d like to see your example of a “similar” collision.
There are ways to “bury the lead” on the base paths (without burying an opponent). You can reasonably and relatively safely disrupt a defensive player’s ability to proceed while also trying to reach a base safely.
That’s what you are taught when you learn how to play baseball.
Not what Chase Utley unleashed on Ruben Tejada Saturday night.
Some people actually want to pin some degree of blame on Tejada for having his back to Utley while also knowing he had a history with Chase. Believe me Ruben never dreamed this was coming his way.
What has happened since Tejada was carted off the field with a broken leg has been one comedy of errors after another…everything from what Chase Utley had to say about the incident…to Major League Baseball’s Joe Torre looking like the most demented Saturday Night Live character you’ve ever seen embarrassing himself further with every additional statement and interview…to Dodgers’ Manager Don Mattingly defending Chase’s actions by pointing out if a Mets player had done that to a Dodger they would be defending their guy. Thanks for that deep analysis Don.
No rule changes are needed. Enforce the rules we have.
Go ahead and enforce Utley’s suspension too…because that will help enforce enforcement going forward for both umpires and players alike.
In a game played for over a century we should use existing rules that have served us well…putting behavior modification to enforce those rules on the big screen…instead of letting these baseball Avengers create another perceived new enemy solely from excessive emotion and overreaction.