Avengers: Age Of Utley

3d Baseball character with a first aid kit

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.


About sportsattitudes

I'm Bruce. Born, raised and still outside the City of Brotherly Love. Managed (so far) to visit a dozen of our United States and Canada (twice). Addicted from birth to Television/Movies/Sports. Took three years of French and got credit for two of 'em.
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10 Responses to Avengers: Age Of Utley

  1. Rob Kotaska says:

    Totally agree. The umps blew that call every way possible.

    Don is wrong. I would not have defended that play, at least not at 41 years old. In my early 20’s…well, we all have a little ahole in us at that time in our lives.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. A sixteen-year-old me slid directly onto a third baseman because I knew it was the only way to be safe. I detached the ball from him but geez…I hurt the guy and he was out for the rest of the game. I was safe but felt like an idiot. Seeing the other team’s reaction cured me for good. I can’t speak for why any grown-ass man would defend this play either.


  3. Horrible hit. Calculated. If they don’t come down hard and enforce the rules, it just encourages others.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. SportsChump says:

    I’m going to play devil’s advocate with you on this one.

    First of all, an injury can occur on any play. He definitely caught Tejada in a compromising position.

    That being said, and you know Utley better than I do, I can’t believe he would want to injure Tejada on purpose.

    Was it a hard slide? Of course. Was he trying to take him out to disrupt the throw? That’s what they’re trained to do.

    Does he feel guilty about it? Maybe a little but probably not.

    When I first heard about the suspension, I’ll admit I thought it was a little extreme, even after watching the slide.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if they drop it down to a game.

    At least he got a warm welcome in CitiField tonight in return for his efforts.

    Bottom line is these things tend to take care of himself. And whether it’s next game or next season, Utley will be getting a high hard one he might want to look out for.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Devil’s advocate indeed…OK, first off it truly didn’t matter the severity of Tejada’s injury. If he had gotten up and dusted himself off I would have taken the same stance. Utley in more than one survey of players has shown to be considered dirty and the fact he has been hit by so many pitches bears that out. The suspension I’m OK with to help enforce rules in place but I’m willing to set that aside as well. I just wanted my double play. As for revenge sometimes the best thing to do is nothing because you freak the other person out wondering when revenge will be executed. Going “old-school” we never hit the guy with a pitch. We waited until he got on first base again and had another chance to throw from second to first while he was running. (hitting the guy with that “pitch” was much more effective!)


  5. Yet once again replay comes up short, failing to ‘get it right.’

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Pingback: How To Get To Second Base | sportsattitudes

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