Prompted by Dodgers Chase Utley’s far reaching slide to break up a double play during the second game of the 2015 NL division series that broke Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada’s right leg, MLB plans to change the rule governing slides into bases.
According to ESPN, the new rule aims to ensure that sliding runners either touch the base or make an effort to touch the base.
Video showed clearly that Utley intended to impede Tejada’s attempt to complete the double play by sliding into him well beyond second base. Although variations of the slide take place everyday of the season in MLB—and every other baseball league from Little League and up—the strategy rarely results in a severe injury.
Nevertheless, the MLB awarded the Dodgers utility player and late season acquisition with a two-game suspension. Commissioner Rob Manfred stated shortly after the game he planned on taking action to prevent these sliding collisions.
“The issue of player safety is paramount for us,’’ the commissioner said. “We have some great young athletes and we don’t want to lose any of them, regardless of position, to injuries that can be avoided and we are going to constantly look at the game to find ways to prevent avoidable injuries.
Manfred added that he already started discussion concerning the matter with the players union. He explained, “It is another example of the issue of player safety, which is really high on our radar screen. We’ve got a lot of money invested in ballplayers. The players themselves have tremendous playing opportunities in terms of what they can earn. And I think it’s important that we protect them.’’
So far the MLB has not fleshed out all of the rule details. Moreover, the discussion includes whether the new edict will include instant-replay review.
According to a report by NBC Sports on internal discussions between the MLB and the players union the “players made it clear they had been taught since they first began playing baseball to go into second base with the intent of breaking up double-play attempts. Although the union wants to improve safety for middle infielders, it does not want to eliminate players’ aggressiveness on slides or the ability to break up a double play.”
Here is the video of the event responsible for what will inevitably be called the “Chase Utley Rule:”