Because of an opinion, the Mets and Dodgers will play Game 5 in their NLDS
Baseball’s postseason always creates storylines, raises the level of intrigue and provokes deep thought and emotion from even the most novice fans.
The Mets and Dodgers series is no exception to that rule. In fact, this series has created so many storylines, so many different narratives, spins and takes from the media and fans, and has been nothing short of a see-saw affair between two storied franchises on the national stage.
But this Division Series has had the one standout moment which, to this point of the showdown, is potentially the biggest reason why there’s even a game five in Los Angeles.
Yes, it’s the collision.
But, it really isn’t the collision.
It’s the ruling on the collision. An opinion, basically.
That’s an important distinction which needs to be made in this situation.
And it’s the ruling – not the collision – which could go on to determine the outcome of this series.
First off, second base umpire Chris Guccione was the only person involved in that situation – Daniel Murphy included – who thought it wasn’t a double play.
After all, if Utley hadn’t thought it was a double play situation, perhaps he might have chosen his actions differently. As would Ruben Tejada.
And, Tejada was taken out after he had turned to the left of second base to throw to first, with what turned out to be plenty of time to get Kendrick.
Tell the players in the heat of the competition the double play is not a factor.
Now, it’s fair to argue that there was no way to know whether or not the Dodgers might have rallied to win in the eighth or ninth innings if Chris Guccione had properly invoked a rule Baseball’s COO Joe Torre invoked in his suspension of Chase Utley for what was an, “illegal slide” (which called for an automatic double play, in this case ending the inning with the Mets retaining a 2-1 lead).
They might very well have.
But that’s the way the Dodgers should have beaten the Mets. Through merit.
Not as a result of an opinion.
And sure, over the course of baseball history, there have been countless collisions – just like this one – which have been designed by the runner to blatantly take out the fielder with absolutely no intention of touching second base. And on most of those occasions, the rules designed to protect the infielder have been mostly ignored, forgotten, or both.
But this is the postseason. A time when seasons, careers, future free agent and arbitration dollars, and the hope and dreams of rewriting history for all clubs are on the line. It’s why ruling that judgment calls cannot be overturned for the reasons provided is too idealistic.
Some judgment calls – especially this one when it was clear a rule had been violated – simply must be reversible for the sake of the game and the health of the players in this game.
There is no argument that the complexion of the game completely changed at that moment. It altered how Terry Collins might have used the bullpen, it prolonged an inning already marred by disaster thanks to Ruben Tejada’s broken leg, and in the heat of a playoff game, there was no question people became very distracted by what had happened.
After all, “half this game is 90 percent mental,” the late Yogi Berra once said.
And instead of starting the eighth inning with Tyler Clippard and utilizing the formula outlined to get the game to Jeurys Familia, the Mets were left picking up the pieces from an inning which never should have been.
In other words, the outcome of the game was not determined by the quality of play. It was determined through officiating.
It should come down to how well the teams play, not how well the rules are applied.
And the Mets and Dodgers are probably en route to Los Angeles right now to play on Thursday because the rules were not appropriately applied.
The Dodgers are presumably pleased to have this opportunity. Just imagine if the Mets lose this series because of an opinion, with Chase Utley involved at that.