keyboard_arrow_uptop

Here is a list of topics I would rather be using as a lead for this recap:

  • Pitching duel #2 was excellent: Outside of a blip in the second inning when Yoenis Cespedes homered on a pitch almost six inches off the plate, and Michael Conforto did his best Chuck Yeager impression on a line drive into the right field stands, the Mets could not muster much offense against Zack Greinke. Los Angeles needed a big outing from him to avoid heading to Queens down 2-0, and he delivered.
  • Noah Syndergaard matched Greinke into the seventh, sitting 97-99 with his fastball and repeatedly topping 100. His changeup, which had been slowly developing all season, was a weapon against the Dodgers left-handed leaning lineup. Much like Kershaw Saturday night, he started to tire in the seventh, and you could argue Terry Collins should have had a quicker hook after Syndergaard walked Enrique Hernandez.

Conforto made another loud out later in the game, and there really isn't much of an excuse to sit him against Brett Anderson in Game Three.

  • Terry Collins doesn't really trust his bullpen. He made that statement when he brought Bartolo Colon into a one-run game in the bottom of the seventh with runners on the corners and one out. The two most ideal results are a double play or a strikeout. Colon has posted a below-average K-rate for the last four seasons and is in the bottom third in groundball rate among starters. Or, put another way:

Of course, Colon did induce a double play ball from Howie Kendrick, and yes, there will be more on that later.

Colon was then removed after facing just Kendrick in favor of Addison Reed, who had been the Mets seventh-inning guy since coming over in a waiver wire trade with the Diamondbacks. Reed has historically been an even more extreme flyball pitcher than Colon, but he does miss bats. He got a weak fly ball to left field from Corey Seager, getting the Mets their second out and allowing them to potentially escape the frame tied. That set up a showdown with Adrian Gonzalez. Gonzalez hits lefties well (.771 OPS for his career, .782 in 2015), but there is still a significant enough split that in a high leverage spot, you'd prefer a LOOGY type on the mound. The Mets have not had an even serviceable left-on-left specialist since a comebacker broke Jerry Blevins’ forearm in April. Their only option was starter Jonathan Niese who was moved to the bullpen after the team clinched, and didn't wow in a handful of relief appearances. Collins stuck with Reed who put an 0-2 pitch in a very bad place.

Justin Turner followed with a double of his own, and Collins finally lifted Reed for Niese, who retired Andre Ethier. The Mets have gotten length out of their starters most of the season, but when Collins can't go Clippard for the eighth, Familia for the ninth, he doesn't seem to have a clear plan for the rest of the pen.

However, the story coming out of the game is what happened when Bartolo Colon induced that unlikely double play ball in the middle of the Mets disastrous seventh:

The decision that followed after a replay review was technically correct, which as we all know is the best kind of correct. Once the umpires reviewed that it was not a double play opportunity (though all three players involved behaved as if it were), and that the slide was not in violation of Rule 6.01(6), Tejada did not touch the bag to complete the force, and Utley could not be penalized for leaving the field without touching second. That was the official explanation, and although it did not sit well with Sandy Alderson, who was reportedly pacing the halls and may have raised his voice to MLB’s chief baseball officer Joe Torre, it isn't being changed. The game wasn't played under protest. No appeal will be heard.

This was just two baseball players making two morally equivalent “baseball plays” as far as the game is concerned. Tejada was trying to turn a double play in a huge spot for his team. Utley was trying to break up the same. By the loosest definition, he probably could have reached back and touched second base. He didn't, but he could have, and in all likelihood, that will not be a legal baseball play come April. This happened on a national stage and resulted in a fractured leg for Tejada. Baseball is not a contact sport, and the juxtaposition of having to avoid contact with catchers in protective gear, while declaring open season on middle infielders nowhere near the bag is a juxtaposition that is on its last legs. By unscientific twitter poll, the majority of players seem to think it was a bad slide. And creating a NCAA-like “must slide towards bag” rule just won't have that much effect on the game day-to-day other than some disapproving clucks from the old school folks.

This does nothing for Tejada, of course. Depending on the severity of the injury, he may miss Opening Day. The Mets will also have to make a tender decision on him, as he is about to get expensive in arbitration. Tejada is also not a player that can afford to lose much in the way of range as an up the middle player. This play could have very real and significant consequences beyond the out and game in question.

The Mets looked a bit shell-shocked after the play, but they head back to Queens with a split against the Dodgers’ pair of aces. They will send Matt Harvey to the mound against Brett Anderson in front of what will no doubt be a very angry Citi Field crowd. Someone on the Dodgers may wear a fastball at some point, another baseball play. The slide will either rally the Mets or cause them to play tight, whatever #narrative works best after this now-best-of-three series plays out. Maybe Utley hits a big home run off Harvey on Monday. It wouldn't be the first time, and he's likely to start, both to protect the Dodgers big hitters from a fastball in the ribs and because he has hit Harvey well for his career. Hopefully the focus will go back to baseball, because it has been a very good series so far, except for two baseball players each trying to make one baseball play.

You need to be logged in to comment. Login or Subscribe
cleavage
10/11
I disagree strongly. The throw from Murphy resulted in Tejada receiving the ball close enough to miss the base by an inch or two. If that is not the basis of a rational interpretation of the neighborhood call, what is? The purpose of protecting the pivoting defender from harm's way was clearly evident in the slide by Utley which effectively was interference, not to mention knowingly dangerous. Torre is a spineless shill, and the umpiring on that play was terrible and fail to see that as an analyst surprises me.
BillJohnson
10/11
Disclaimer: I have no rooting interest either way in this game. That said, I agree wholeheartedly with the comment about the neighborhood call. Tejada HAS to dodge the base on this play, or he has a serious risk of being injured even more severely than he actually was. If you're not going to make the call there, then get the thing explicitly off the rulebook.
jpaternostro
10/12
The description of the play, while accurately reflecting what happened and the rule interpretation, is not meant to be a defense of Utley. The statement that Tejada trying to turn a double play and Utley doing what he did to break it up were "morally equivalent" baseball plays is a purposefully cynical reading. I guess it wasn't as rhetorically effective as I hoped.
modonnell
10/11
Although very sad a player was hurt on this play, every analyst I have heard on this play has confirmed the umpires and review of the play got it right. It was within the rules and is, in fact, played this way all the time. The only reason for the outcry is because Tejada was seriously injured and it was a big moment in the tight game. Remove the emotion from the play and they got it right. I believe this same play just occurred in the first game of the Astros/Royals series where Altuve was upended by a "late" slide. But no one was injured so no real further discussion transpired as a result. As far as Utley "probably could have reached back" and touched the base as stated in this article, his hand traveled right over the bag, just inches above it. In fact, one replay makes it look like his hand touched the base because it was so close to the bag. So the "reach back" description in this article is inaccurate and paints a different picture than what actually occurred. And lastly, why isn't anyone commenting on Murphy's poor throw behind Tejada that caused to miss the bag, get turned around and not be able to see Utley's slide, and not have a chance to complete a double play? Murphy set him up to be injured with that poor feed.
morro089
10/12
Not that I agree with takeout slide tradition, the takeout slide on Altuve was your standard run of the mill takeout slide. Would people have been pissed if it resulted in an injury? Absolutely! And they should be! You're injuring a player with your spikes/body intentionally. In football you can't kick a player on the ground with your spikes, that gets you suspended and ridiculed by pundits and the public. It's nonsense that it's okay in baseball because the player isn't "defenseless" while running, jumping and throwing as fast as he can. Saying that, Utley's slide is absolute, umm, need a non-swear word...hogwash. "His hand traveled right over the bag." Yeah, that's because he was still in the air. He literally "slid" over the bag. The man started his slide at 89.5 feet and would be ended up at 95+ feet. It let's head smacked into the ground at 91 feet. In a reasonable slide that's not even possible. It was a dirty play. Don't defend it, don't degrade yourself to that level. And this is Murphy's fault? A human makes a small throwing error and that's why his teammate has a broken leg? Come on. When a driver (car A) blows a red light and hits another car (car B) nobody blames the driver of car B for not looking both ways before entering the intersection. There's a very safe assumption what car B and Murphy did wasn't going to get someone hurt.
BarryR
10/13
There was nothing wrong with Murphy's throw, except in the eyes of the umpire in NY and, apparently, you. Tejada caught it in rhythm, made his normal move to the bag, preserved his health (in theory) by not stepping on the bag, then whirled to try and complete the double play. At which point, clear of the bag, he was crashed into by a thug, who started his rolling block (it wasn't a slide), after he passed the bag,
alwaxman
10/12
It wasn't a slide, it was a rolling block. There was no attempt by Utley to touch the base. Add to it that instant replay has eliminated the neighborhood play, eliminating the best defense a middle infielder had to avoid legal contact - which this wasn't since Utley made no attempt at the base. It was a dirty garbage play, period. Here's hoping Utley gets to play some games against the Mets while playing 2nd, if not during the playoffs then next year.
shmage
10/12
Now that Utley has been suspended for his flagrant foul, it is even more shameful that Collins (who had just demonstrated his fecklessness by leaving Murphy in when he had a real second-baseman, Johnson, ready to take over) failed to protest the umps' failure to rule interference. A new depth in managerial incompetence.
alwaxman
10/12
I don't believe that's reviewable as it's a judgment call.
backwardgalaxy
10/12
Isn't the neighborhood rule unreviewable? Did the umpire specifically rule on the field that Utley was out because Tejada was on the bag? Shouldn't there not even have been a review?
slascher
10/12
This has got to be one of the most perverse plays in the history of baseball. The baserunner makes a flagrantly improper slide and as a result the Dodgers are rewarded with no outs instead of punished with two. The umpires made 2 clear errors and one horrible judgment call: They failed to call him out for the improper slide. They failed to call a neighborhood play out. And they punished Tejada for not going back to touch the base, even though he was lying on his back with a broken leg. And why should the question of whether Tejada touched the bag be reviewable and all the other bad decisions not be? Even to the extent that portions of this were consistent with the rules as written, from a common sense and big-picture standpoint, it just doesn't add up.... BTW, I'm a Yankees fan, not a Mets fan.