Shortly after the Dodgers’ victory in Game 2 of the National League Division Series on Saturday, Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez took to the airwaves and expressed what many of his colleagues were saying online and on social media.
He seemed angry. Chase Utley was trying to break up a double play in the seventh inning of the Dodgers’ win on Saturday, Martinez said on MLB Network. But the slide, he said, was unnecessarily hard.
“That is something that is mind-boggling coming from a second baseman who plays the same position. It kind of bothers me to see that, that he went to break up the double play,” Martinez said of Utley’s slide on Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada. He continued: “This kid has a family. This kid needs his job. You might jeopardize his career. Who knows? ... Why didn’t you slide with a little bit more time. You do have the time to slide a little bit further away from Tejada and still break up the double play.”
Utley’s slide in the seventh inning of the Dodgers’ 5-2 win was the turning point in the game. Afterward, Tejada was carted off the field, and he was later diagnosed with a fractured fibula.
After the game, Utley said, “I ran hard to try to break up a double play. I feel terrible that he was injured. I had no intent to hurt him whatsoever.”
In the visitors’ clubhouse, many Mets players felt aggrieved.
“I have a problem with the play on a number of different levels, one being the slide itself,” third baseman David Wright said. “In my opinion, he wasn’t anywhere close to the bag.”
“It’s up to you to decide if tackling is legal in baseball,” left fielder Michael Cuddyer said.
Though there were those who defended Utley, reaction across Major League Baseball was critical.
Justin Upton of the San Diego Padres tweeted, “If that was a superstar shortstop we would have a Tulo Rule being enforced tomorrow,” referring to the Toronto Blue Jays’ shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.
Upton’s teammate, Will Middlebrooks, tweeted, “Don’t agree with the slide. It was Late.”
Not long ago, the shortstop trying to turn the double play for the Mets would’ve been Jose Reyes, now a member of the Colorado Rockies. He tweeted, “that was really a weak attempt at a slide by Utley.” For good measure, he added three angry face emojis.
Some players, though, took Utley’s side.
Some, like former pitcher Mark Mulder, acknowledged that Utley’s slide may have been dirty. Then he said that’s the type of play you’d want in the postseason.
“Like it or not, Utley plays hard and I would want him on my team,” Mulder tweeted.
Utley’s former Philadelphia Phillies teammate and Angels’ outfielder Shane Victorino tweeted, “Never wanna see anyone get hurt but I have seen worse but the magnitude of this one will bring up a lot of debate for sure!!!”
Martinez wasn’t buying the pro-Utley argument. After he wrapped his television segment, he took to Twitter to ask, “If you tell Utley to teach kids to slide on second base? Would he teach them the way he slided tonight?”
Follow Zach Helfand on Twitter @zhelfand