Chase Utley was suspended for 2 games due to the hard slide that broke the leg of Reuben Tejada. Utley is appealing the suspension and here are the four reasons he should win his appeal.
He Did Nothing Wrong
Let’s just start there. The slide wasn’t even outside of the unwritten rules of baseball. The actual rule states that he and the runner heading to first should have been out, but this has never been the case in baseball for as long as I can remember. Takeout slides are common place in the game and the unofficial rule is that the player must be within an arms length of the base. Utley was, so there’s no way he should be punished for this act.
His Intent Was Not Malicious
The suspension indicates that Utley was purposely trying to hurt Tejada. He was not. Utley’s sole purpose on that slide was to ensure there was not a double play turned on the play. He succeeded in that. Unfortunately Tejada was injured, but that is certainly not what Utley was attempting to do. Any player in the league would have tried to take Tejada out, and none of them would be trying to hurt him.
Sets A Bad Precedent
If this suspension holds, it will set a precedent that any time anyone takes a player out on a double play, they should be suspended for two games. And actually, because these are playoff games, one could argue that the precedent would even be harsher than just a pair of games. Also, if you injure another player, are you now subject to suspension as well? Look to the NFL, suspension precedents are very important, and this would set a poor one.
He Shouldn’t Be Punished For Another Players Injury
In a hypothetical world in which Tejada was not hurt, there would be no suspension. So the real reason this has come about was because of the injury. That’s a reactionary way to look at the game and it simply doesn’t work. The result of the play should not effect the punishment, in this case, there’s no doubt Major League Baseball has taken into account.
It Was Partially Tejada’s Fault
Every shortstop is taught at a young age to protect themselves when turning a double play. Tejada put himself in danger the moment he planted his foot to make the throw. I’m not saying he did the wrong thing, because it’s the playoffs and they needed that out, but he absolutely brought the risk upon himself. Utley’s slide wouldn’t have come close to him had a turned the double play in a fundamentally sound way. He got hurt because of his positioning as much as because of the slide, Utley shouldn’t have to pay for that.