Here's a postgame Q&A with MLB chief baseball officer Joe Torre and Director of Umpiring Randy Marsh reacting to Chase Utley's controversial slide in Game 2 of the NLDS, which fractured New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada's right fibula.
Q. Joe, can you explain on what basis umpires viewed the slide as legal and not constituting illegal interference?
Joe Torre: Yeah, well, I mean, that's a judgment play. We get a chance to watch it. I'm still watching replays of it. They get a chance, one shot to look at it. Especially with the fact that they've got to see if the guy touches the bag or touches the runner, so there are a lot of things they're looking for. Obviously, Chris Guccione didn't think it was a violation. That's a judgment.
It saddens me, and I think everybody else, that Tejada gets hurt here. There is no question. ... I'd hate to think that Utley tried to hurt somebody. It certainly was late. That concerns me. The lateness of the slide.
But we're still basically talking about it. But the umpire, just one shot, I certainly can't fault the umpire for everything he had to look at.
Q. You said you're still talking about it. In what regard?
Torre: We still -- I'm still in charge of determining if it's something that shouldn't -- like the slide was over-the-top type of thing. As I say, it was a hard slide. ... Looking at it a number of times, I thought it was a little late. So that's what I'm digesting right now.
Q. You would review it to see if you need to impose any discipline?
Torre: Again, I'm looking at it just to see if there's anything we feel should be done.
Q. Just curious in that case, what recourse would you have under the rules to impose discipline on a play like that after the fact?
Torre: What recourse would I have? ... Well, I have to determine if I thought it was excessive, I guess, is the word, on the slide. Not that you shouldn't slide hard, but as I said, just the late slide is probably the only thing that's in question right now.
Q. Does it help that Chase used his arm to try to grab the bag, trying to sort of sell the play: 'I'm trying on get the bag and not try to hurt anybody'?
Torre: I sure hope as hell that Chase Utley -- I mean, he's been a great player for a long time, and he's played hard. I certainly don't feel that he was trying to hurt somebody. I think his goal was breaking up a double play, and in doing that, someone broke their leg. He was, I agree, he was within range of the bag, yeah. It wasn't like the fielder was over here, and he went right at him and couldn't reach the bag. Yeah, that's where it becomes not cut and dry. So it's all this stuff that we're going to look at and digest.
Q. This came from Justin Upton (on Twitter) a few moments ago: If that were a superstar shortstop, we'd have a "Tulo Rule" enforced tomorrow? Do you agree?
Torre: No, I think every player's important. Because someone's not an All-Star player, that to me is not part of the circumstance here. God forbid it should ever be.
Q. Just to follow up on that, can the rule be made better than it is right now to protect infielders?
Torre: The interesting part is we have the neighborhood play that we have in effect in a lot of ways to protect the infielders, having to stay at the base. This wasn't a neighborhood play because spinning around and the reaching for the ball and stuff like that.
This wasn't a neighborhood play. We're certainly aware of the health of the players, so that's why the neighborhood play is part of what we decide on as far as replay or no replay. We're always looking to protect players. I mean, we have the crash rule at the plate and stuff like that. It's a concern. ... What we're doing in the [Arizona] Fall League, and I don't know if I'm supposed to say this, but in the Fall League, we're having the players work on sliding directly into the bag, just to see how that works and stuff.
Q. Requiring them to?
Torre: Yes, in the Fall League. This is where we can experiment with stuff. That's where we put the clocks in and stuff for speeding the game up. I just want to be sure. Everybody knew why the play was overturned, right?
Q. No, can you explain that, please.
Torre: Tejada showed that he didn't touch the bag, and Utley never touched second base. The fact that he was called out meant he didn't -- he's not required to touch second base once he's called out. So when the play was overturned, he gets awarded second base on that.
Q. Correct me if I'm wrong, if they had tagged Utley just before he went off the field, would that have changed that situation?
Randy Marsh: Yeah, he would have been out.
Torre: In other words, if whoever happened to have the ball had tagged him going by the dugout or something, then he would have been out.
Q. Really? And they couldn't challenge?
Torre: Yeah, because that was before.
Q. And they could challenge because it wasn't a neighborhood play?
Torre: It wasn't a neighborhood play. That's judged on the field. Once it goes to replay, that's not a neighborhood play.
Q. If he went off the field because he was told he was out and then they tagged him because he had been told he was out?
Torre: No, I mean, if the player had had the ball and happened to tag him.
Q. Before he was told?
Torre: Well, he heard he was out, and he was leaving the field. But I'm saying before he left the field, right?
Marsh: Right, he was called out.
Torre: Because the act of tagging somebody, the fact that he didn't touch the bag and now you're tagging him, OK? But once he's off the field and we go to replay, everything stops, so he's awarded second base because he wasn't tagged. But he left the field based on the fact that the umpire called him out.
Q. So he never needed to touch the base?
Torre: He never needed to touch the base because the umpire called him out. You're correcting umpire's mistake. In that situation, by going to replay, and they see the runner never touched the base, but the umpire called him out, by replay rules we can correct the situation and put the runner on the bag.