Oct 12

No Hearing Today; Utley To Play

Multiple media outlets are reporting Major League Baseball will not conduct an appeals hearing today, thereby enabling Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley to play in tonight’s NLDS Game 3 against the Mets.

Utley was suspended for Games 3 and 4 following his take-out slide that left Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada with a broken right leg,

In a statement, Utley said: “The players’ association and my agent are handling the appeals process. I have nothing more to say other than to reiterate that I feel terrible about Ruben’s injury. Now my teammates and I are focused on Game 3 and doing everything we can to win this series.”

Oct 11

Despite Utley’s Suspension, Keeping Mets Composed Could Be Collins’ Toughest Job

There are many, myself included, who believe Terry Collins should be National League manager of the year for all his team had to overcome this summer. Despite numerous injuries and controversies, and low expectations, the Mets won 90 games to win the NL East.

For that he would have earned my vote.

COLLINS: Needs to keep Mets composed. (Getty)

COLLINS: Needs to keep Mets composed. (Getty)

However, for as good a job as Collins did, his most important work will come now as he attempts to temper his team’s raw emotions in the wake of Chase Utley’s hard take-out slide that broke Ruben Tejada’s right leg.

After the game, Collins said the umpires handled the play properly. Since the umpires have the discretion to eject Utley if they deemed it a dirty play. They saw enough replays before the reversal and their no-call has to be interpreted as it being a legal play.

However, Major League Baseball executive Joe Torre, after reviewing more replays decided to suspend Utley for Games 3 and 4 in New York. Torre’s statement did not include an indictment of the umpires’ actions. After the game, Torre said it was a judgment call by the umpires.

“After thoroughly reviewing the play from all conceivable angles, I have concluded that Mr. Utley’s action warrants discipline,” Torre said in a statement released by MLB Sunday evening.

It can’t be discounted that Torre, who has managed both New York teams, understands the fans’ passion and anger, and hearing what came out of the Mets’ clubhouse, made his decision to defuse a potential ugly situation. On Saturday, Torre called it a late slide by Utley. However, on Sunday his statement did not call Utley’s slide illegal. Shouldn’t the label of being illegal been a part of Torre’s statement?

The Mets’ clubhouse was visibly angry, with David Wright and Kelly Johnson the more vocal players who questioned Utley’s intent.

“He’s a second baseman. If he wants guys sliding like that into him, then it’s perfectly fine,’’ Wright said. “He knows how to play the game. If he doesn’t mind guys coming in like that when he’s turning a double play, then we don’t have any problem with it. It’s a legal slide. It’s within the rules. But somebody is going to get hurt.’’

Whether Utley’s take-out slide was clean or dirty depends on whom you ask. Utley was clearly the villain according to Mets players and the talking heads on SNY.

“Yeah, they’re angry,’’ Collins said. “You lose in a playoff series to that serious of an injury, yeah, they’re not very happy about it.’’

Will there be retribution, and if so, in what form? I’m figuring a warning will be given prior to the game, which should diffuse headhunting. If nothing else, the Mets won’t have Utley to throw at unless there’s a fifth game.

Mets Game 3 starter Matt Harvey said “the most important thing for me is to do me job,’’ and he’s right.

Harvey plunked Utley in April, but these are the playoffs and he can’t afford to be ejected. Another factor to consider is if they take a shot and the Dodgers retaliate, who is to say another key Met is injured that could prevent them from advancing.

What Collins must do is tell his team, “we received a bad break, but the best way to respond is to win.’’

If the Mets play dirty and out for blood, it would be a sign Collins lost control of his team. Especially considering Utley’s suspension.

As for Utley, he defended his actions.

“The tying run’s on third base, I’m going hard to try to break up the double play. I’ve always played that way,’’ Utley said. “I feel terrible that he was injured. I had no intent of hurting him whatsoever.’’

Utley also texted an apology to Tejada through Wright. Utley texted the contents of his apology to FOX Sports: “In no way shape or form was I trying to hurt Ruben… I slid in hard like I have for 12 years. I feel terrible about the outcome. I’ve reached out to Ruben via David Wright.’’

Whether Utley’s apology gesture is accepted remains to be seen, but it is up to Collins temper his player’s emotions.

The season could depend on it.

Oct 11

Utley Slide Helps Tie NLDS And Ends Tejada’s Season

Cal Ripken Jr., said it was a “hard, clean’’ play, but not dirty, and if anybody should know about take-out slides it is him. That’s not to say others didn’t have their own opinion. Chase Utley took out Ruben Tejada to break up the double play in the seventh inning Saturday night, and in doing so knocked the Mets’ shortstop out of the playoffs with a fractured right leg.

UTLEY SLIDE: Fuels Mets emotions. (Getty)

UTLEY SLIDE: Fuels Mets emotions. (Getty)

Not only did the game-tying run score on the play, but when Dodgers manager Don Mattingly appealed Tejada never touched the bag, Utley was ruled safe, and with the out taken off the board, it enabled Adrian Gonzalez to hit a two-run double that lifted the Dodgers to a 5-2 victory to change the complexion of the series.

Mets manager Terry Collins said the umpires made the right call, and added his players were an angry bunch.

“You have to take the emotion and keep your focus,’’ Collins said. “You can’t lose control.’’

Instead of returning to New York with a chance to finish the sweep behind Matt Harvey, the NLDS goes back to Citi Field tied at a game apiece.

Until then, there will be continued debate on the nature of the slide – clean or dirty?

“Only Chase knows what the intent was,’’ Mets captain David Wright said. “My opinion is he wasn’t close to the bag.’’

Utley, known for being a hard-nosed player, defended his actions.

“It was one of those awkward plays,” Utley said. “There was no intent to injure Ruben, whatsoever. My intent was to break up the double play.”

Speaking of Harvey, what immediately came to mind with the Utley slide was of him getting plunked by the Mets’ Game 3 starter before he was traded by the Phillies. Utley wasn’t thinking that when he slid into Tejada, but if there wasn’t bad blood between Utley and the Mets before, there probably is now.

One thing for sure, what has been a compelling series by its stellar pitching, now has an edge to it.

Oct 10

Mets Lineup, NLDS Game 2

Here’s tonight’s lineup for the Mets in Game 2 of the NLDS against the Dodgers:

Curtis Granderson – RF
David Wright – 3B
Daniel Murphy – 2B
Yoenis Cespedes – CF
Lucas Duda – 1B
Travis d’Arnaud – C
Michael Conforto – LF
Ruben Tejada – SS
Noah Syndergaard – RHP

Aug 29

Upon Further Review: Lagares Blew Play

It is totally irrelevant, 100 percent, replays showed Blake Swihart’s drive off the wall that resulted in an inside-the-park home run would have been ruled a conventional homer had it been reviewed.

Also irrelevant, and unacceptable, is Juan Lagares’ explanation that he saw the ball go over the line.

“One hundred percent,’’ Lagares told reporters. “It hit over the line. That’s why the ball came back that hard.’’

LAGARES: Didn't make the play. (AP)

LAGARES: Didn’t make the play. (AP)

Yes, it did, but that doesn’t matter. More important were his actions during the play. I don’t want to say Lagares is lying, but I’m not buying what he said.

If Lagares really thought the ball struck over the line, then why did he run after it? Actually, he jogged after it, which is also not acceptable.

OK, Lagares misplayed the drive and indicates he’s continually plays too shallow. He won the Gold Glove last season, but he’s not good enough to play that shallow. He’s not Paul Blair, not Curt Flood, not Willie Mays, not Andruw Jones, and not Andrew McCutcheon. Not even close. A lot of balls have gone over his head this season. (Sorry for the side rant, but that has been building up for awhile.)

The only ones who handled the play properly were Swihart, who never stopped running; the umpires, who never gave the home run call because they didn’t see that; and Ruben Tejada, who ran into the outfield to get the ball.

“I thought it had gotten over because of the way it bounced back, but I just kept my head down running,’’ Swihart said. “I kind of watched the center fielder jogging after it, but I didn’t hear anything so I kept running.’’

Notice how Swihart said Lagares jogged after the ball. He kept running out the play; Lagares did not.

And, give left fielder Yoenis Cespedes a bag of popcorn for the way he watched the play. It hasn’t been the first time he hasn’t hustled.

Lagares needs to hustle after the ball because you never know until the umpires make the call. As a player, you never assume anything, out or safe, fair or foul, until the call is made.

Lagares’ judgment and Cespedes’ lack of hustle can’t be tolerated, not in spring training and especially not during a pennant race.

After the game, manager Terry Collins conceded Cespedes and right fielder Curtis Granderson didn’t do their jobs, saying: “Somebody’s got to back him up.’’

However, Collins was not quoted regarding Lagares’ part other than to say the ball went over the line. Here’s wrung him out in his office after the game. The Mets are in a race, so this stuff needs to be cleaned up now.

Last night doesn’t cut it in October.