Chase Utley did nothing wrong during Game 2 of the 2015 NLDS when he knocked over Ruben Tejada on a takeout slide. There I said it. MLB has said a lot of things since that day, but their words don’t matter. Their actions have consistently driven home the notion that Utley’s slide was completely acceptable and encouraged. And we already knew this. Let’s be clear. MLB said they dropped Utley’s pathetic 2 game suspension because of the way the rule was inconsistently enforced in the past. Ummm it wasn’t inconsistently enforced at all. It was never enforced. It was consistently never enforced. Takeout slides have been occurring forever. And the MLB never punishes anyone for the action. In fact, MLB has consistently encouraged the following league sanctioned lifecycle of the takeout slide:
1) Double play ball is hit. 2) Runner uses takeout slide to break up double play by illegally going out of the baseline to illegally interfere with the fielder. 3) Play is broken up and opposing fielder is injured. 4) Opposing team is angry. 5) Opposing team’s pitcher throws a baseball at the takeout perpetrator the next time he steps up to the plate.
And so the cycle continues. It’s really hilarious that in the context of the takeout slide, MLB has preached all offseason about how the culture must change and player safety must be the priority. And in an effort to discourage the old takeout slide culture they have…refused to punish the existing behavior. And not only that, in essence by repealing Utley’s suspension they have said, “we will let the Mets pitching staff handle Utley’s punishment with a beanball to the face”. Perfect! Player safety problem solved. Thank goodness.
If you want to know how MLB will handle takeout slide decisions in 2016, look no further than their handling of this. They had their first test right here, and they completely bungled it. They got the initial call wrong in October 2015. They got it even more wrong upon replay review. They admitted they didn’t understand the rule after the game, and also admitted they got it wrong in the game. Then they didn’t discipline the player essentially saying they were wrong when they said they got it wrong in October.
It’s going to be fun in May when we play the Dodgers and the biggest question before the series is “When are the Mets going to try and nail Utley with a 95 MPH fastball?” I wonder if Matt Harvey will appeal the 5 game suspension he is bound to get for beaning Utley, and if Yoenis Cespedes will appeal his 5 game suspension for fighting in the ensuing brew-ha-ha. We shall see, but at least we can put this whole thing behind us now. Well actually no. We can put it behind us once we nail Utley. Unless the Dodgers want to retaliate for our beanball. Then we will have to wait for retaliation 2.0 to put it behind us. Thanks MLB!