If you haven’t caught a glimpse of Chase Utley’s Slide Seen ‘Round the World from Game Two of the NLDS, pictures tell a good deal of the story. Utley had barely hit the deck by the time he was passing second base, forcing even the most hard-nosed of old-school ballplayers to concede it was “late,” at the very least. To most everyone else it was dirty.
For more evidence, watch the video where Utley thrusts his upper body toward Ruben Tejada’s midsection in mid-air in the effort to thwart the double play. Had he remained parallel with the ground — where he would likely have clipped Tejada’s calf or ankle — you could argue the Dodgers 2B was playing hard (yet clean) baseball. Instead, Utley’s move smacked of borderline-malicious intent.
Nonetheless, we have to agree it was unusual to see a two-game suspension leveled by MLB for the incident. Equally dirty takeouts have taken place in so many regular-season and playoff games it’s impossible to count them all. However, there are a few notorious incidents in living postseason memory that equal or outdo Utley’s takeout of Tejada. And none warranted suspensions from MLB at the time.
Here are three players who preceded Chase Utley in the dirty slide Hall of Fame for dastardly postseason deeds.
1. Hal McRae, Royals
Flash back to Game Two of the 1977 ALCS between the New York Yankees and Kansas City Royals. Though no footage of the game was available, the Daily News photo of K.C.’s Hal McRae launching into Yankees 2B Willie Randolph speaks volumes. McRae is not only past second base but diving headlong into Randolph as he tries to turn a double play in the sixth inning. (A run scored on the play but the Yankees won the game and, later, the series.)
Randolph said he was so furious he threw the ball into the Royals dugout after the dirty play. “I’m not sure I hit anybody,” Randolph told the Daily News. “I hope I did. But that was a long time ago.” Wasn’t baseball in the 1970s simply grand?
2. Matt Holliday, Cardinals
We don’t have to go back far in history to see an Utley-worthy slide in the postseason. In the 2012 NLCS between St. Louis and San Francisco, Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday (whose build resembles a brick shithouse) tore into the Giants’ Marco Scutaro when he received the ball at second base. Holliday’s offense here was largely in the timing, as he slides not into the bag but over it and into Scutaro’s legs. Calling it “late” doesn’t begin to do it justice, but it was high as well, checking all the boxes for a dirty play. Somehow, Scutaro turned the double play and stayed in the game.
3. Pete Rose, Reds
With footage of Ty Cobb unavailable, we turned to the second-most notorious player in the game’s history, Charlie Hustle himself. Though Pete Rose’s takeout of Ray Fosse in the 1970 All Star Game remains one of the nastiest plays ever, the Reds legend did his share of damage in the MLB postseason as well. For more on that, we drift back to Game Three of the 1973 NLCS between Cincinnati and the New York Mets.
In his attempt to break up a double play, Rose went in hard and popped up with an elbow for Mets shortstop Bud Harrelson. When Harrelson took exception to the (likely intentional) play, Rose answered by shoving him to the ground and punching him in the face. Harrelson had mocked Reds hitters via the press earlier in the series, so this move was expected by many. But Mets fans responded by pelting the field with cans and bottles, eventually causing the game to be suspended.
Reds manager Anderson had the zinger to describe the aftermath in which he pulled his team off the field (via Fox Sports): “Pete Rose gave too much to baseball to die in left field at Shea Stadium,” he said. He certainly delivered his share of hard hits on the diamond.