Around the Horn on ESPN a couple years ago threw together this compilation of baseball’s dirty slide problem and debated it out. It was tough to find a long video of all of baseball’s dirty slides, but this video gives a pretty good sample.
By now I’m sure you all know my thoughts on the slide. If you don’t, listen to the podcast here
There are really two possible scenarios coming out of this Chase Utley situation, and I’m going to try to look at it from the most neutral perspective I can.
Let’s say Utley gets off without a suspension. In both scenarios, a precedent is set. So in this case, the precedent is set that the slide technique Utley used is fully legal and within the rules. What does that mean for middle infielders around baseball? Trouble. But you could argue that this slide hasn’t been disciplined in the past, so why should it be disciplined now? Breaking up double plays is part of the game, no doubt. If they outlaw this slide, are we going to see an argument and debate every time a player goes hard into second base? Nobody wants that. It’s instinctive for a ball player to go hard into second to do whatever he can to make sure that double play isn’t turned. I don’t think anyone ever intends on breaking Tejada’s leg, and I don’t think Utley did either. The slide has gone unpunished up until this point, so why should Utley have held back, if he knew it was maybe not “legal”, but goes fully undisciplined.
In this case the precedent is set that a slide like Utley’s will not be tolerated. If this happens the work has just begun for MLB. They’re going to need to clearly definite what will and what won’t be tolerated. The rules are very vague on the slides, I think that needs to be figured out. Obviously Tejada’s leg being broken was a factor in MLB acting so quickly with discipline on Utley, but the rules need to be defined.