It has many names: the ‘slide’ rule, the ‘Utley’ rule, the ‘soft’ rule, etc. It is the rule that keeps runners from sliding into the opposing baseman on second base.
In October 2015, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Chase Utley slid hard into second base, colliding with the New York Mets’ Ruben Tejada. Tejada was carted off of the field and later diagnosed with multiple leg fractures.
In the offseason, the slide rule came about in an attempt to protect players, especially those with major contracts. The Mets had guaranteed $1.5 million to Tejada before the injury occurred.
This past week, the Dodgers took on the Mets in New York City and the fans were not too welcoming to Utley. With collective boos and signs reading, “Utley loves Isis”, it was clear that Mets fans still held a grudge towards the Dodgers’ second baseman.
But do the Mets have the right to still be angry?
Going back to Tejada’s career in New York, he constantly irritated the Mets’ managing staff by showing a lack in work ethic and physical conditioning. Tejada was hitting .260 with an OPS of .696, showing the outlines of an ‘okay’ shortstop. Not only did he lack hitting power, Tejada also lacked in defense as both his DRS and UZR dropped dramatically in his last season with the Mets. After avoiding arbitration, the Mets were able to release Tejada and only have to pay him slightly under $500k.
Let us be honest with ourselves, and I am speaking to all Mets fans, you should be thanking Chase Utley instead of booing him. The Mets replaced Tejada with Asdrubal Cabrera who is having a career year. Cabrera even hit a home run in May off of Clayton Kershaw, who had an almost perfect May, allowing only one homer (to Cabrera). With a BA of .282, SLG of .403, and OPS of .737, Cabrera has successfully replaced and taken over what Tejada left.
So Mets fans, move on from hating Chase Utley and begin thanking him for the shortstop you have now.
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