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Upon further review, the umpires blew it

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The Mets have lost not just a game, which got away from them amidst the controversy in the 7th inning of game 2 of the NLDS vs. the Dodgers, but they lost a key player who had sparked up on offense in the stretch run.

Shortstop Ruben Tejada broke his leg on a takeout slide by old Met nemesis Chase Utley, now a high priced pinch hitter for the Dodgers. Utley was originally called out, but a replay challenge by Dodger manager Don Mattingly demonstrated what had been speculated ever since the current replay system was implemented, that the old "neighborhood play", in which a middle infielder can get the benefit of an out call at 2nd on a double play grounder, no longer applies.

However, where the umpires screwed up was with Utley. He never touched second, either, and ran off the field after the initial call, assuming the neighborhood play was still in effect. Mets announcer Ron Darling, calling the game on TBS with Ernie Johnson, Jr. & Cal Ripken, Jr., was thinking Met manager Terry Collins might be able to counter-challenge. No such luck. The Dodgers ended up with 4 runs in the inning, and evened the series at 1-1, winning 5-2.

However, that shouldn't stand. There is also a rule that says that in the umpire's judgement a runner goes out of his way to break up a double play without touching the bag could be deemed out, along with the batter, in this case Howie Kendrick. Ump Chris Guccione paid no attention to the fact that Utley missed the bag entirely, and the Mets never appealed.

Was it because Collins was prohibited by some obscure clause in the replay rule? I don't know. I went to bed after the inning ended.

The correct call?

Hmmmm, this one is a bit tough. You have five other umpires, plus the replay team in Chelsea, Queens, not far from the Mets' home base in Flushing. If you use the above referenced rule, Utley is out again, and so is Kendrick. Inning over, and the Mets keep a 2-1 lead. I would not be at all surprised to tune in on Monday and find out that, yes, they did blow the call.

Online reaction has been, of course, mixed. Some think that Utley's slide was on the borderline south of the rulebook, and that he'll be a target for retaliation if he is called on to pinch hit in games 3-4 at Citi Field Monday & Tuesday. Some are calling for a suspension, preferably without any appeal. The Mets lose a player, and can't replace him on the roster until the next round, assuming they eliminate Los Angeles. To make things even, Commissioner Rob "Not-so-Mighty" Manfred should suspend Utley for the remaining 3 games, maybe longer.

The Mets, remember, have Matt Harvey waiting in Game 3. If Utley comes to bat, he's virtually a dead man walking. At first, seeing the play develop on TV live, I thought he was going old school, not quite at the level of, say, Ty Cobb, or even Pete Rose, but Utley has had a history of screwing the Mets by leaning into some HBP's. As I wrote above, he assumed it was a neighborhood play, and accepted the initial judgment. But, he doesn't have that safety net anymore, and now is perceived as a dirty player for injuring a defenseless Tejada. The neighborhood play is a thing of the past.

So what happens next? Manfred has to make a ruling by game time Monday to prevent any further "bloodshed". If he doesn't, there will be trouble. And it could be costly to both teams going forward.
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