Home > Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays > Rays beat Jays due to Jose Bautista’s interference. It probably had nothing to do with Chase Utley

Rays beat Jays due to Jose Bautista’s interference. It probably had nothing to do with Chase Utley

51z6q5xwdnl-_ac_ul320_sr208320_On Monday, there was a correct application of the “Chase Utley Rule.”

The Braves’ Nick Markakis slid into second base looking to disrupt a double play attempt. The batter, Hector Olivera, beat the throw to first base, but he was ruled out upon review because Markakis’ slide sent him over and entirely past the second base bag. Since Markakis was unable to stay within range of the base, he was in violation of the new rule. The call on the field was changed to a double play, and everyone seemed to understand what had happened. No fuss, no muss. All parties moved on.

On Tuesday, we had another case of runner’s interference. A much more impactful one since it directly changed the result of a game. And many people have said it was the “Chase Utley Rule” striking again. That’s not really true. It was just Jose Bautista getting caught doing something that should never be allowed.

Here’s the sitch: The Tampa Bay Rays are leading the Toronto Blue Jays in the top of the ninth, 3-2. The bases are loaded with one out, and Alex Colome is about to deliver a 1-2 pitch to Edwin Encarnacion. Encarnacion sends a chopper to third. Evan Longoria, playing back on the ball, has to hurry if he wants to complete this 5-4-3 DP and preserve a win.

Longoria fires to second baseman Logan Forsythe, who dodges an incoming Jose Bautista but sends a throw so wide of first that it goes into the Rays’ dugout. The tying run scores on the fielder’s choice, and the go-ahead run for Toronto crosses home on the error.

Wait a sec …

Let’s see that slide from Bautista again.

After review, Encarnacion was called out due to Bautista’s actions. The double play was awarded. Rays win. Jays lose.

Bautista is in the wrong twice here. If you want to invoke the “Chase Utley Rule,” you could say that Bautista was called out for the same reason as Markakis one day prior: He didn’t keep contact with the base through the end of his slide.

But the much more obvious transgression by Bautista — and I’m assuming the one that was at the heart of the replay review — is that he makes clear, intentional contact with Logan Forsythe’s right foot. That has nothing to do with the “Chase Utley Rule.” Way before 2016, MLB stated, under Rule 6.05(m), that a batter should be called out when:

A preceding runner shall, in the umpire’s judgment, intentionally interfere with a fielder who is attempting to catch a thrown ball or to throw a ball in an attempt to complete any play.

That’s what we have here. That part of the play doesn’t invoke Utley’s rule. It was already on the books.

The Blue Jays were understandably upset at this decision. No team likes to lose a game thanks to a replay review and a call made by a person not even in the ballpark. But the postgame quotes from Bautista and Blue Jays manager John Gibbons were quite baffling. Here’s a sampling:

Yeah! Bautista could have broken Forsythe’s ankle. He could have taken him to the ground and begun gnawing on his leg like it’s a drumstick.

Maybe I’m getting a bad read on this quote, but it seems like Bautista tacitly admits that he did something wrong. We’re just supposed to feel fortunate that he didn’t do something more wrong. What a strange defense.

Except Bautista didn’t throw his hands up. He kept them down and then reached up slightly to make contact with an opposing player during a throw. He could have done a bunch of things with his hands. Just not that.

John Gibbons probably took the words right out of Goose Gossage’s mouth. Gibbons is sick and tired of all these “rules” designed to protect players from injury and keep opponents from basically tripping each other on the basepaths. It’s the wussification of America. And I, for one, blame Barack Hussein Obama.

Oh, c’mon, Gibby. It’s April 5. The season is so young it can’t even open its eyes yet. Let’s hold off on the sexist comments until at least June, maybe?

The correct call was made against Encarnacion/Bautista. If you disagree, I’d love to hear your thoughts. But one negative I think everyone can agree on: As a result of this, opposing TV broadcasts are going to show no fewer than 2-3 replays each time Bautista slides to break up a double play at second base for the rest of 2016. 

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