I don’t think Utley was out to hurt Tejada, but the way he went in to breakup the double play was bad. He did not slide, which is why I disagree with those who claim it was a clean slide to force the shortstop to either make a bad throw to first or eat it and not make a throw at all. I believe in playing the game right and making a solid attempt, with a good legal slide that keeps infielders honest and removes them from completing a double play. But a good, hard slide to breakup a double play is one in which the runner, sprinting into second, comes in hard and SLIDES feet first with head up to force the fielder to jump over the oncoming runner. Utley did not slide. He went into Tejada sideways with hip up and barreled into him, forcing Tejada down in a violent collision that broke his leg and ended his season.
I don’t think this play should eliminate players from going hard into second on a slide. But I do believe it should be enforced that when the runner does not slide, but plows into the runner purposely with no intention of holding onto second base, then he should be called out along with the batter/runner to first.
If we were to have an instructional video for young players to learn the correct method to slide, Utley’s rendition of it last night was wrong in every sense. We need to stress that the runners must slide, hit the dirt before making contact with the fielder and going down to slide well before the distance of the bag. Utley went in for his roadblock collision very late and in no way can you call his play a sliding attempt to break up the double play. It was a block to prevent the fielder from making a throw. It is a shame the Dodgers won out on that play, because that play does not showcase good, hard, clean baseball.
Also, I agree with Pedro Martinez when he states that those making the review calls in New York should be known and held accountable. Their calls are not always consistent and we wonder why similar plays are called differently. It is frequently said that some of the video angles of replays being reviewed in the New York office are different from the broadcast replays. There are different cameras and I often hear announcers say they don’t even know where these cameras are set up in the ballparks. Why the secrecy? Why can’t viewers see all replay angles? Are there even different cameras in the ballparks just for the New York officials to view or is that just what they want us to believe?
Fans can live with umpire calls going against their club and can deal with the ever changing strike zone from one official to another, but on a play like the one that was performed last night that caused injury to another player, and became a game changing event, is not in our definition as . . . the beauty of the game.