Lots of drama over a dirty slide, but here’s why it’s actually a big deal

Published 5:48 pm Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley was suspended for games three and four of the National League Division Series with the New York Mets for what was alleged to be an illegal and reckless slide around second base in game two of the series.

Utley’s slide broke Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada’s leg.

In announcing the suspension, which Utley is appealing, Joe Torre, Major League Baseball’s Chief Baseball Officer, described the slide as a rolling block on Tejada that the umpires somehow missed.

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Ironically, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly played for Torre when he was manager of the New York Yankees and preceded him as manager of the Dodgers.
Mets ace right-hander Matt Harvey is scheduled to pitch in game three of the series Monday at Citi Field in New York.

During the regular baseball season, when a player is involved in a situation like the one Utley is currently involved in or is hit by a pitch, the opposing pitcher retaliates by hitting an opposing batter and is thrown out of the game. But with the current situation involving the Dodgers and Mets, I would not advise Harvey to retaliate. He cannot risk getting thrown out of the game and hurting his team.

Recently, I was reading an article by former Yankees, Dodgers, California Angels, Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox left-hander Tommy John—for whom a famous ligament replacement surgery for pitchers is named—in which he described his response when he was dealing with similar situation to the one that Murphy is now dealing with.

John said that in 1968 when he was pitching for the White Sox and Detroit Tigers infielder Dick McAuliffe, thinking he had thrown at him, charged the mound and separated his shoulder, ending his season.

“I told reporters that I would someday get back at McAuliffe,” John said, “I never threw at him. All I wanted to do was put doubt in his mind and have him thinking that I might hit him at this at bat or the next at bat. McAuliffe never did much against me after that. He had just one hit in 12 at bats.”

John suggested that Harvey should not hit Utley, but rather plant the seed in his mind that he might. I don’t think that that would be a bad idea.