Chase Utley has been suspended for Games 3 and 4 of the NLDS, this after breaking the leg of Mets second baseman Ruben Tejada during a hard collision at second base in Game 2 on Saturday.
Utley slid late and hit Tejada, who was turning to attempt a double play on a grounder from Howie Kendrick. Tejada fractured his leg, flipped over and landed hard on his side. The Dodgers wound up scoring four runs in that inning and won, 5-2, to even the series at 1-1.
Game 3 is Monday in New York.
While some people thought Utley made a good, hard slide, others thought it was a dirty play. Brandon Tierney and Tiki Barber debated that very point on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney on Monday.
“I don’t think it was dirty,” Tierney said. “I don’t think it was dirty.”
“Come on, he was nowhere near the bag – and he slid late,” Barber countered emphatically. “He does this. I almost feel like he has a history doing this.”
Tierney didn’t argue that point.
“He does, he does,” BT acknowledged. “I guess it depends which school you’re from. I don’t necessarily mean the old school versus the new school. One thing for me – and we’ve seen this with NFL players – after awhile once X amount of time lapses, I think you have to hit he reset button in terms of how you view one act.”
Barber didn’t agree, saying, “If a dude’s a dirty payer, he’s a dirty player.” He then likened Utley to former Dallas Cowboys safety Roy Williams.
“They created a rule for something that he did all the time,” Barber said. “He did it for years – and because we were in the NFC East, he often did it against me. It’s now called the horse-collar. He used to do that all the time. He’d run downhill. He would miss you on purpose and then he’d grab you from behind. So instead of taking the hit, he’d grab you by your collar and jerk you down. It’s effective, but it creates huge injury potential because if you’re strong – like I was when I was a runner back in those days – I’d pull him forward, he’d lift up and he’d fall on the back of my legs. And in fact, the famous one he did it to was Terrell Owens. He was the one who broke Terrell Owens’ leg the year that he was in Philly. He was a dirty player. Now if he’s on my team, I love that. I want that guy. But if you look at it in the big scope of the sport, it’s dirty. Chase Utley is a dirty player.”
Tierney simply feels that label is unfair, especially given the context of the situation. The slide didn’t happen in April; it happened in Game 2 of the NLDS with the Dodgers down 1-0 in the series, 2-1 in the game and slated to face Matt Harvey in Game 3.
“You got to do what you got to do,” Tierney said. “I don’t think he’s dirty. I think Tejada’s got to have a little more awareness around the bag. I do. You got to know what’s going on.”