And then he mentioned that all hell was suddenly breaking loose in the Mets-Dodgers game in L.A. because Chase Utley had just fractured the leg of Ruben Tejada while breaking up a double play.
Since I was driving and listening to the radio, I hadn’t seen the play. But my first impression – based on past experience – was that Utley probably slid into second the way ballplayers are supposed to and sent Tejada flying. I’ve both done that and had it done to me. It’s part of the game – just like blocking the plate used to be. I’ve been on both ends of that one, too.
As I was listening, strong opinions were coming forward on both sides:
- Clean, hard, take-out slide.
- Dirty play.
Without seeing the play, I was siding with Chase Utley. Even though his career’s been on the down-slide for the past few years and he should’ve been traded long before this year, he still plays hard. Always has. I’ve watched his whole career.
And then around midnight I saw the video.
Watched it three times . . . four times . . . five times – and I was appalled. I forgot about my positive bias in regard to Chase Utley. Judging with my eyes, I concluded that was one of the dirtiest plays I ever saw. I have no problem with aiming the slide in the direction of the fielder. Utley was within an arm’s length of the bag. But you’re supposed to slide into the base and he didn’t even start his slide until he passed the base.
I wonder if Utley at least had the decency to yell “LOOK OUT” before he tackled Tejada from behind.
TWITTER BLOWS UP
Twitter was blowing up with opinions on both sides of the table. One post caught my eye.
Apparently, Cal Ripken had deemed it a clean play.
Well, Cal Ripken may have forgotten more about baseball than Bryan Armen Graham ever knew. But that’s not the case in my house. So I threw in my two cents:
From out of nowhere came the voice of Ryan Lawrence.
In case you’re unfamiliar with Ryan Lawrence, he’s the Phillies beat writer for the Daily News. I like his work. But apparently, he’s in awe of Cal Ripken and believes that Ripken’s opinion is more valid his opinion, your opinion, and my opinion.
Sorry, but I’m not in awe of anyone. I played organized baseball from the age of 8 until the age of 55 – that’s 47 years. While Cal Ripken may know the best places to eat or to find hookers – from Boston to Anaheim – he doesn’t any more about baseball than I do.
Does he know more about baseball than you?
Their level? You don’t have play in the big leagues to know the game, or to understand it. For crying out loud, Charlie Manuel still doesn’t know when or how to execute the double-switch. I learned that during the 1960s observing Gene Mauch.
But Ryan Lawrence was right. This isn’t difficult to get.
Some people see it one way and some people see it the other way.
It’s Monday now and the debate rages on.
In fact, my son is disagreeing with me right now as I’m writing this. We’re texting back and forth and we’re on opposite sides of the fence. And guess what? He started playing organized baseball in Florida at the age of six and I value his opinion more than I do the opinion of Cal Ripken.
But I’ve noticed some ballplayers who played at “their” level are on the same side of the fence with me. Apparently they have the gall to disagree with Cal Ripken, too. One such person is Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations for Major League Baseball. His name is Joe Torre – and he played at “their” level.
‘‘After thoroughly reviewing the play from all conceivable angles, I have concluded that Mr. Utley’s action warrants discipline.” – Joe Torre
Another is Dusty Baker.
“You have to look at the leg slide. We all know how to break up double plays. [Look at] the intent of the leg slide. David Wright said it best – [Tejada’s] back was turned. He couldn’t defend himself.
Chase Utley is looking at him, but [Tejada] can’t see him. So, you could make a decision, ‘I can sweep his leg and break it up,’ or you could go in the way he went in and broke the guy’s fibula.
[Torre] should suspend [Utley]. – Dusty Baker
Here’s a couple videos on both sides of the issue.
Let me say this in closing. If Chase Utley had broken my leg in that manner, he’d live in fear for the rest of his days. I’d give him a heads-up that I’d be seeking revenge – and I’m not ordinarily a vengeful person.
But I wouldn’t sneak up on him from behind. I’d want him to see it coming. I’d want him to be looking into my eyes every time I kicked his ass.
In addition to being a former newspaper sportswriter and the current official Eagles Outsider for BlameMyFather.com Barry Bowe is also the author of: