Preston Wilson doesn’t think Chase Utley is a dirty player, but he does think Utley’s slide on Ruben Tejada in Game 2 of the NLDS – which resulted in a broken leg – was.
“My first thought was, ‘That’s really late and that’s really hard,’” Wilson, the former MLB All-Star and World Series champion, said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I was known for going into second hard. When I saw that slide by Utley, the fact of how high he was when he crossed the bag – to not even touch the bag and do that old-school roll block that you used to see in the ’70s and ’80s – I was really surprised to see a middle infielder do that, and my first thought was, ‘That’s dirty.’”
As Wilson explained, there’s nothing wrong with breaking up a double play, but you have to slide to touch the bag first and take out the player second – and not the other way around.
“You want to be able to say you’re sliding in order to touch the bag,” Wilson said. “You can still take out the guy. Really good base-runners know what side of the bag they’re going to slide to depending on where the ball was hit. If it’s hit to the second baseman, usually the shortstop is going to be coming across the bag and come to the back side, so you’re going to slide into the centerfield-right field side of second base to more than likely take him out. . . . The throw from (Daniel) Murphy kind of turned Tejada around to where he’s facing centerfield. That’s not the base-runner’s responsibility.
“Honestly, if you’re Tejada in that situation, you have to bail out of there,” Wilson continued. “It’s like a quarterback when he knows he’s going to get sacked. You know when that base-runner’s coming in and how close he is, so you got to figure out when it’s time for you to bail on that play. And also when it’s time to say, ‘Look, we’re only going to be able to get one here.’ The hardest part about judging that play was how far, in my opinion, Utley went behind the bag before his slide even began. He didn’t really even get into his slide until he was parallel with the bag – and that’s what I had an issue with.”
Wilson does not expect the Mets to retaliate against Utley or the Dodgers in Game 3 on Monday.
“I don’t think they can afford to throw at anybody tonight,” Wilson said. “I think you have to realize that look, we have a chance to advance to the next level of the playoffs. Our goal is to make it to the World Series and win it. If we got to deal with something, let’s deal with it when it’s not going to hurt us. You can’t cut off your nose just to spite your face just to prove a point – even though some teams do that and it works to their detriment. Right now your focus has to be on getting your team to the next level.”