Dirty Plays no Longer Discouraged

You’ll recall that Chase Utley’s totally dirty non-slide broke Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada’s leg in Game 2 of last year’s NLDS. We all watched it three dozen times while we waited for the medical team to cart Tejada off the field. And each time we saw it, the play looked dirtier.

Joe Torre, MLB’s punishment czar, suspended Utley for two games. Utley appealed the suspension and, of course, played the rest of the series. His Dodgers lost before he could serve his suspension.

So he has to serve it for the Dodgers’ first two games of 2016, right? Seems like a pretty light punishment for a slide that knocked a guy out of the playoffs and could’ve ruined his career. But we’ll go with Torre’s judgement.

Except Torre just lifted the suspension. Zero games. “Chase Utley, you’re free to go.”

The play, which actually nudged MLB to change the rule, culminated a weird year for middle infielders. All by themselves, Pittsburgh lost two shortstops to reckless “slides.”

Torre said that, since Utley didn’t serve his suspension during the playoffs, it seemed kind of inconsequential. Torre acted like his hands were tied.

But Torre and MLB can do whatever they want. They’re judge and jury. They’re the lunatics and the asylum. They suspended Aroldis Chapman for a month and he wasn’t even arrested. I’m not saying they shouldn’t have done that. It looks for all the world that he beat up his girlfriend. But 30 days for something you didn’t get arrested for? Doesn’t that sound like Torre and Co., want to get tough?

I’m not comparing domestic violence to a heat-of-the moment dirty slide. One’s an inexcusable societal problem and the other one looked like a desperate attempt to break up two.

At the very least, Torre should have upheld the suspension, even for only two days. But Utley, known for “hard-nosed baseball,” will be in the Dodger lineup on Opening Day.

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