The latest controversy in the MLB playoffs involves former Philadelphia Phillie, now Los Angeles Dodger Chase Utley and his “slide”/flying body block into Ruben Tejada during the second game of the NLDS.
Although not ruled a double play on the field at the time (something the umpires have the power to do), Utley has since been suspended for the next two games of the playoffs although the second baseman plans to appeal the punishment.
The incident in question was very reminiscent of a play earlier this season in a Harrisburg Senators game against the Reading Fightin’ Phils at Metro Bank Park.
On April 24 in the sixth inning of a 7-3 game, Senators’ shortstop Stephen Perez took out Reading’s Carlos Alonso at second base. The play developed under very similar circumstances as a ball was hit up the middle and both middle infielders, Tejada and Alonso, started the pivot with their back to the runner before rotating to try and finish the double play.
In real time, I thought Perez’ slide was hard and aggressive but not over the line.
But after watching it multiple times from multiple angles in the control room later that night, I understand the outcry. I don’t think Perez intended to hurt Alonso, but the Reading infielder’s season was done after he suffered a torn ACL on the play.
Many Phillies fans at the time and even today are calling Perez’ attempt that day an “incredibly dirty slide”. Manager Dusty Wathan even talked with Eastern League officials about the play hoping for disciplinary action against Perez according to reports.
The only video I have here is from the original broadcast and there weren’t any replays shown at the time, but you can see in the photos from PennLive’s James Robinson that Perez almost stutter stepped when he’s getting to the bag. I remember from the replays seeing his shoulders dip like he was going in for the slide and then changing his mind. I believe Perez intended to go in hard and legal, but somewhere in the middle of starting his slide tried to alter his path and instead went in awkwardly late and high.
Look it sucks for Alonso. I even heard from his dad after the game about the slide being dirty. I don’t agree but I can understand how he would feel that way for his son.
But now that Utley’s slide has raised the discussion on these types of incidents, will we see harsher penalties and stricter rules much like we’ve seen at home plate after the Buster Posey and Brian Jeroloman collisions? Probably. I’m just not sure how that can be accomplished at second base.