Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, ignoring the fact that an MLB rule already addressed collisions between runners and fielders, stated that he ponders a new rule while protesting that such a move received consideration before Chase Utley’s hard slide into Ruben Tejada in Game 2 of the Dodgers-Mets NLDS.
Manfred argued, “Prior to this, we had an interest in dealing with issues at and around second base. We’ve gone through the issues with home plate collisions. They’re not really that different in terms of the issues, so we do have an interest in making a change.”
Rule 6.05(m in MLB’s rulebook states:
A preceding runner shall, in the umpire’s judgment, intentionally interfere with a fielder who is attempting to catch a thrown ball or to throw a ball in an attempt to complete any play: Rule 6.05(m) Comment: The objective of this rule is to penalize the offensive team for deliberate, unwarranted, unsportsmanlike action by the runner in leaving the baseline for the obvious purpose of crashing the pivot man on a double play, rather than trying to reach the base. Obviously this is an umpire’s judgment play.
Before game 3, Manfred and MLB officials consulted with GMs and managers of the Mets and Dodgers “to make sure everybody’s on the same page,” according to Manfred.
After the Mets’ Game 3 13-7 win, Mets manager Terry Collins asserted:
Manfred understands the game the other night, what happened, and the impact it had on both teams. But the game was the most important thing and we had to go play it correctly and Donnie (Mattingly) and I totally agreed. We just said the one thing we wanted to make sure didn’t happen was that nobody on either side or the umpires got too carried away, because as we all know during the course of a game, someone’s going to get knocked down, not intentionally. There’s going to be someone who slides, makes a funny slide or something, and it’s all part of the game. And he said, ‘I totally understand.’ We’re going to play the game, and I thought our guys responded very, very well to it.”
Mattingly echoed, “This is our national stage and we want to represent our game and we want to play baseball. You always hear the chatter, but I think in general you want to represent the game the right way.”
Manfred acknowledged that no date has been set for the appeal of Utley’s two-game suspension, an appeal that allowed him to play in Game 3 (he sat) and in Game 4. MLB would prefer to put the matter behind it quickly. He added, “We had some preliminary conversations with the union. Usually, we agree on a date and we’re hopeful that we’ll agree on a date quickly.”
The Mets had applauded the two-game suspension, stating that they felt it was “the appropriate course of action.With this decision behind us, the team and our fans can now focus on playing winning baseball.”
The MLB commissioner would neither confirm nor deny whether the matter would be settled before the Mets-Dodgers series is over, concluding, “I’m just not going to speculate. We’d like to have it heard as soon as possible. The union – let me say reasonably – wants time to get things pulled together. But given the issues involved, I’d like to think it could be done before the end of the series.”
Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, who suffered a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee after Preston Wilson’s slide tore him up in 2000, defended Utley, saying: “I looked at it and I viewed it as just a clean hard slide. Never want to see anybody really get hurt. When I got hurt at second base, Preston didn’t try to come in and hurt me. Just tried to come in and break a double play. Unfortunately, the kid got hurt, but you’re just playing playoff baseball and you’re playing the game hard.”