Utley Appeals Leaving Us To Wonder Harvey’s Response

You knew it wouldn’t be as easy for the Mets as Chase Utley simply taking his two-game suspension and quietly waiting until Game 5.

As for Matt Harvey, who always has a swirl of non-pitching issues about him, now has one more thing to contemplate: Should he impose his own brand of frontier justice by drilling Utley in the back if he plays?

“We’re definitely moving forward with him in our minds,’’ Harvey said at the Mets workout Sunday afternoon at Citi Field.

HARVEY: What's he thinking  as Utley appeals?  (MLB)

HARVEY: What’s he thinking as Utley appeals? (MLB)

Like most everything Harvey says, it is open to interpretation, just like his following comment, which at first means winning is the best revenge, but ends with a clipped warning.

“I think the most important thing is going out and doing my job and doing what’s best for the team,’’ Harvey said at the workout. “For me, in my mind, that’s going out and pitching a long game and being out there as long as I can, and keeping zeros on the board.’’

That’s the perfect response, but he couldn’t let it go, and added: “But you know, as far as sticking up for your teammates, I think being out there and doing what’s right is exactly what I’m going to do.’’

Harvey nailed Utley in an April game, so we know he’s willing to get his hands dirty. But, if he hits him this time, would part of his intent be to clean his reputation with his teammates?

Many Mets players, notably David Wright, have not been enamored with Harvey after his innings-limits fiasco was brought to light by agent Scott Boras, and most recently for showing up late for a workout last week, reportedly after partying the night before.

Utley’s decision to appeal Major League Baseball’s knee-jerk reaction to suspend is not surprising. Baseball executive Joe Torre a former player, manager and leader of the Players Association, knows hardball plays of which this was, and the emotions of it happening in New York.

Torre said numerous times when he managed the Yankees the players take care of these things themselves, and that’s probably what he is afraid of. This happened Saturday night so the emotions and tensions remain raw. It is easy for him to think things could break loose, especially when fueled by the anger of a crowd with lynching on its mind.

Torre rightly wanted to defuse a potentially ugly situation, but in doing do may he be wrongly persecuting Utley?

Sure the slide was late, Torre said so at the time. But, at the time he did not deem it dirty. Neither did the umpires, who had the authority to call the runner out and eject him from the game.

While Torre said the slide violated the rules, he never called it dirty when he issued the suspension. What are we supposed to make of that? Did Torre change his mind by simply watching the replays, or by reading the quotes from the Mets’ clubhouse and hearing the ire of the man of the street?

What about the neighborhood play, you ask?

It does not apply because Daniel Murphy’s throw pulled Tejada off the bag and put him in a position where he could not defend himself. Replays showed Tejada put himself at risk for attempting to spin and then throw. The spin put him directly in the path of Utley’s slide.

There are rules in place, which Torre quoted, designed to protect the fielder. Apparently, the umpires did not feel they were violated. However, Harvey does and we are all wondering how he will respond. He would be foolish if he did because it could mean an ejection for him or an injury if the result is a brawl.

Of course, MLB is likely to uphold the suspension, which raises an interesting question: What if Utley were to get the Players Association involved or pull a Tom Brady and take this to court?

One thought on “Utley Appeals Leaving Us To Wonder Harvey’s Response

  1. The neighborhood play should have been in place. Tejada was trying to turn the DP…it’s not like the throw pulled him way off the bag. And Utley was clearly going after Tejada and not the bag.

    I don’t really care about the suspension either way, really. It’s a bit too little, too late. Doesn’t change the outcome of Game 2. And if they really wanted to prevent players from siding dirty like that, I think knowing there is a good chance the play would be rule interference is a bigger deterrent than maybe getting suspended after the fact. The whole point of a slide like that is to try to break up the DP….if players know a DP would be ruled regardless they probably aren’t going to slide like that.

    But in general I don’t think the umps decision aka blowing the call should influence MLB’s decision on whether or not it’s a suspendable offense. Like I said, I don’t really care about the suspension now b/c it doesn’t change what happened, but from a MLB disciplinary standpoint, I don’t think the call from the umpires is relevant. MLB officials have a lot more time to review the play – I think their decision should be independent of whatever decision was made from the on field umpires. There have been pitchers suspended for throwing at hitters who weren’t actually ejected from the game (a STL pitcher who threw at Wright’s head comes to mind). Similarly, not all pitchers who get ejected for throwing at hitters are handled the same suspension wise.

    As for Harvey/Utley….whatever. The Mets priority should be to win the game. Utley didn’t seem particularly fazed when Harvey threw at him earlier this year, so I’m not sure it really does anything this time around. I guess it’d be nice for Ruben to see his teammate has his back…so from that standpoint fine. Though if Harvey hits Utley and Utley ends up scoring an important run, the Mets will look like idiots.