Take Me Out to the Ballgame & Take Out the Take-Out Slide

Would Utley have been suspended if Tejada’s leg had not been broken?

∗ Suppose there was no injury, only a double-play averted.  Utley would  have been in favor with the Dodger fans, patted on the back by his teammates, and, apart from a few commentators referencing it as a rough slide, it all goes relatively unnoticed.

∗ On the other hand, if there is no take-out slide and no disruption of the double-play, Utley returns to the dugout with teammates, coaching staff and even some fans thinking he should have done more.

That is why the issue about whether or not Utley should be suspended is so complex. We are still a society which cares more about consequences than intentions.  No one believes that Utley “intended” to break Tejada’s leg; he intended to break-up a double play.  If the rules of baseball in anyway encourage this strategic slide we should consider the potential consequences.

This collision broke Tejada’s leg. Utley is fortunate not to have been seriously injured; watch his head as he collides into Tejada.  2 million registered little league players… what is their take away?
Keep Baseball Safe!

IF the slide was legal it should’t be.

Taking a look at the play in slow motion, it is hard to argue against the fact that

  1. the slide was late
  2. Utley was beyond the base and off the baseline  
  3. You can also see that Utley could have been seriously injured.
    (Watch as his head is thrown back from the impact; his helmet being tossed several feet)

If the the NFL should be teaching MLB anything, it is that not focusing on safety may one day result in some significant challenges. MLB should be protecting their players AND sending the right message to young fans regarding safety and sportsman-like behavior. The very term for behaving in a civil manner is “sportmanship“.  If we do not attend to enforcing sportsman-like conduct on the field, we run the risk of undermining the positive attributes associated with the term “sportsmanship” itself.  The reputation of MLB is still recovering from the steroid debacle.  Utley’s slide is an opportunity to take a closer look at some of the relevant regulations and sync our desire to watch great sports with our desire to see great sportsmanship.  Let’s tighten up the very few rules that allow, and worse – encourage, these great players to do less than great things in the name of a win. Baseball is more than that. 


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BJ Taylor is a former Clinical Psychologist and instructor in Psychology at the UNSW in Sydney, Australia.  BJ now enjoys freelance writing in the areas of ethics and government.

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1 Response

  1. BJ Klem says:

    You can’t soften the game too much. But for the amount of time this neighborhood play is used and the relative risk to the players, I say take it out and yes — keep baseball safe. We have to have one sport our kids can play without too much worry for their parents 🙂

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