Video of the Ruben Tejada injury is causing a fierce debate online, and now you can judge for yourself — was Chase Utley’s slide dirty?
The Mets were leading the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning in Game 2 of the NLDS when Howie Kendrick hit a hard ground ball up the middle. It was fielded by second baseman Daniel Murphy, who flipped to Ruben Tejada, but as Tejada caught the ball and twisted in an attempt to throw to first for a double play, he was taken out hard by a sliding Chase Utley.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 11, 2015
Utley did not appear to make an attempt at the bag, but instead started his slide after he was already at the base and appeared to aim right for Tejada. Ruben Tejada was flipped end over end, suffering a broken leg that will keep him on the sidelines for the rest of the playoffs.
In an even more bizarre twist, Chase Utley was declared safe because Tejada missed the bag (despite Utley never actually touching second base during the play).
The Dodgers scored the tying run on the play that left Ruben Tejada injured, and took the lead later that inning, going on to win 5-2. The controversial play and Ruben Tejada’s injury has led to a fierce debate online about whether the play should have been ruled legal. For those who want to judge for themselves, video of the play can be seen here.
Via @ESPNStatsInfo: LA’s win probability would’ve been 24% had Utley’s slide been ruled illegal (7th inning over). http://t.co/6Z1IRIAUyw
— ESPN (@espn) October 11, 2015
As ESPN‘s David Schoenfield noted, the MLB rules actually dictate that Chase Utley should have been ruled out due to his intentional interference with a fielder. He even dug out the exact rule.
“Rule 6.05 reads:
A batter is out when —
(m) A preceding runner shall, in the umpire’s judgment, intentionally interfere with a fielder who is attempting to catch a thrown ball or to throw a ball in an attempt to complete any play:
Rule 6.05(m) Comment: The objective of this rule is to penalize the offensive team for deliberate, unwarranted, unsportsmanlike action by the runner in leaving the baseline for the obvious purpose of crashing the pivot man on a double play, rather than trying to reach the base. Obviously this is an umpire’s judgment play.”
The New York Mets were furious about the play. Reports indicated that Mets general manager Sandy Alderson was waiting for the officials in the hallway after the game, ready to unload on them.
Other Mets players were fuming, as well. Second baseman Kelly Johnson could barely hold his frustration after the game, and while he shied away from calling Chase Utley’s slide dirty, he did question why the umpires didn’t call it interference.
“Chase is playing hard,” he said. “He’s doing his thing. He’s in the moment. That’s not the issue. The issue is he hit our shortstop first before hitting dirt. The question is at, one, is that illegal? At what point do we say, ‘Hey, man, we missed something here.’ We’ve got rules at home plate to protect our guys. What’s the difference? Ruben stuck his neck out there to make a play to try to get the bag and then to turn to make a throw. And before he can get the ball out of the glove, he’s getting tackled.”
Even some former New York Mets seemed to agree. Shortstop Jose Reyes tweeted during the game that Utley’s slide did not look legal, and former Mets pitcher Ron Darling even stuck up for the team in the broadcast booth. Darling was on the TBS crew that called the game, and after Cal Ripken Jr. said that the play “looked worse than it was,” Darling disagreed.
“It looked bad because it was,” he said.
Now the New York Mets will be without Ruben Tejada for the remainder of the postseason, and will return to New York tied 1-1 rather than with a commanding 2-0 lead in the series.
[Image via TBS screenshot / Deadspin]