Even MLB players think Chase Utley's slide was dirty

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Dodgers Slide Past Mets, Cubs Draw Even


By JOHN DORN

The Los Angeles Dodgers pulled even with the New York Mets at a game a piece in the National League Division Series Saturday night, in the most controversial game of the playoffs thus far.

As you've probably seen by now, while trailing 2-1, LA's Chase Utley came barreling into Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada in an attempt to disrupt a double play. Tejada got caught in an awkward pivot, Utley nearly passed the base completely before beginning his descent, and the result -- after extensive discussion and replay review -- was Utley being safe at second and Tejada suffering a broken leg. He'll miss the rest of the playoffs. Los Angeles tied the score at two on the play, and took a 5-2 lead by the end of the inning.

Video clearly shows both players failing to touch the base, but Utley deliberately targeting Tejada's body rather than the base itself -- leaving many confused when he was allowed to remain safely on second base after review.

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Even MLB players think Chase Utley's slide was dirty
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 10: Ruben Tejada #11 of the New York Mets is hit by a slide by Chase Utley #26 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the seventh inning in an attempt to turn a double play in game two of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 10: Ruben Tejada #11 of the New York Mets is hit by a slide by Chase Utley #26 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the seventh inning in an attempt to turn a double play in game two of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada, right, lands next to Los Angeles Dodgers' Chase Utley who broke up a double play during the seventh inning in Game 2 of baseball's National League Division Series, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 10: Ruben Tejada #11 of the New York Mets is hit by a slide by Chase Utley #26 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the seventh inning in an attempt to turn a double play in game two of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 10: Ruben Tejada #11 of the New York Mets is hit by a slide by Chase Utley #26 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the seventh inning in an attempt to turn a double play in game two of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 10: Ruben Tejada #11 of the New York Mets lays on the field after sustaining an injury in the seventh inning on slide by Chase Utley #26 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in game two of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 10: Ruben Tejada #11 of the New York Mets is given medial attention on the field after sustaining an injury in the seventh inning on slide by Chase Utley #26 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in game two of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 10: Ruben Tejada #11 of the New York Mets is given medial attention on the field after sustaining an injury in the seventh inning on slide by Chase Utley #26 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in game two of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada is taken off the field after being hurt in a double play against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the seventh inning in Game 2 of baseball's National League Division Series, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 10: Ruben Tejada #11 of the New York Mets is carted off the field after sustaining an injury in the seventh inning on slide by Chase Utley #26 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in game two of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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But even aside from the ruling, the dominating topic stemming from the incident is the morality of the slide, and how the umpiring crew and MLB rewarded the Dodgers for such a dangerous play by Utley. Consider this a reprise of the "unwritten rules" conversation that gained prominence when Jonathan Papelbon strangled teammate Bryce Harper in their own dugout last month.

But now, instead of just feelings being hurt, the Mets have lost their starting shortstop ahead of the franchise's most important games in a decade. Coming on the primetime stage, the play elicited reaction from the top personalities in baseball, including players from the past and present.

Predictably, the Mets clubhouse was livid after the game. Asked if he thought the play was legal, outfielder Michael Cuddyer perhaps came down the hardest.

"That's for you to decide," Cuddyer said, according to the New York Daily News. "Is there tackling in baseball?"

Utility man Kelly Johnson, acquired by the Mets in July, also had some harsh words for Utley and the officiating crew after the game.

"If (Utley) hits the ground first I have no problem with it,'' he said. "But he just crushed Ruben in the legs. There has to be a line drawn somewhere."

Team captain David Wright said postgame that he still had several questions about the play, and that only Utley truly knows what his intent was.

Even Mets players left off the postseason roster chimed in through Twitter. Pitcher Logan Verrett and injured reliever Jerry Blevins sounded off shortly after the play.



Former Mets player and coach Howard Johnson was a little more blunt.



Even players outside the New York organization felt the need to protest -- like longtime Mets rival and future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones.



Rockies shortstop and former Met Jose Reyes, who has been on the receiving end of a few Utley takeout slides in past years, was also disappointed.



In regards to the reaction by MLB and the umpires, San Diego Padres outfielder Justin Upton inferred that if Tejada was one of the game's stars, the consequences would've been different -- like if it had happened to Troy Tulowitzki.



Prominent former players-turned-television personalities used their platform to give deeper insight -- first, Alex Cora of ESPN.



Pedro Martinez, on the TBS postgame show, perhaps offered the most elaborate explanation.










In the short term, the league is looking into possible discipline for Utley. In the long term, this could be the final straw that leads to drastic rule changes -- the previous development was Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop blowing out his knee before the playoffs on a similar play.

In any event, the Dodgers won the game, but the Mets are still in the driver's seat -- though down a shortstop -- as the series shifts to Citi Field for two games. With Matt Harvey on the mound, there will surely be a buzz in New York as the team eyes its first postseason series victory in nine years.

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