The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees
all citizens the right to a speedy trial. Chase Utley
received that and more from Joe Torre on behalf of Major League Baseball. His suspension of Utley for games 3 and 4 of the Series against the Mets which resumes tonight is now going through the appeals process covered under the Players Bargaining Agreement, based on the premise that Union lawyers need time to prepare a case for Utley.
Whether or not the suspension is upheld is virtually a moot point since the series is not likely to last as long as the appeal. I wrote yesterday that Utley was simply doing his job the way all coaches and managers teach it – break up the double play. We see it done every and the game goes on. Except in this case, Ruben Tejada’s leg was broken as a result of Utley’s actions and his services are lost to the Mets for the duration of the 2015 Playoffs. For the Mets, this is not a small matter since untested Wilmer Flores now takes over as the shortstop.
You might recall the words to a Buffalo Springfield song that seems appropriate here….”Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong”. But the overall problem here is something that Joe Torre alluded to, and that’s the fact that there are no rules here. For example, the so-called “neighborhood play” is not mentioned anywhere as a rule. Thus, it all comes down to judgment…….Utley’s judgment with his rolling slide far away from the base, the Umpires judgment in calling the play in the split second they had to see it, the instant replay umpire whose judgment nullified the neighborhood play, and finally Torre’s judgment that a “flagrant foul” had been committed.
To his credit, Torre also said that it was his job to keep players on the field. That may or may not be a measure of his sentiments regarding Ruben Tejada, but it certainly represents the sentiment of owners who pay their players for their performance on the field. Nowadays, even a pedestrian shortstop like Tejada (who is being paid nearly $1.9 million for his services by the New York Mets) earn salaries that often requires them to “play through” injuries – except of course when you have a broken leg. As I said yesterday, this was a train wreck from the time the ball hit the bat until where we sit today.
In his press conference yesterday, Terry Collins indicated that these are things that players take into their own hands……thereby washing his hands from anything Matt The Brat might do tonight. That was the wrong message to send to a young and (proven) immature player who just might see it as a opportunity to prove his bravado on a national stage. We’ll see how it plays out tonight………but I hope we just play baseball.
Joe Torre, along with Major League Baseball will take this on over the Winter months in the same way they “ruled” on plays at home plate to protect catchers.
In all likelihood, the new ruling will state that the runner must be in the immediate area of the base at all times when sliding, something Utley clearly violated. Baseball will fix it, or at least they will try to. Quite cynically, they’ll fix it because they have to – $$$$ – but who cares – just fix it by helping to preserve baseball as a true non-violent sport because what saw the other night doesn’t belong in the job description of a professional major league ballplayer.