The New York Mets chose not to throw at Chase Utley a few weeks ago in LA, but don’t expect a similar result this weekend in Queens.
The New York Mets host the Los Angeles Dodgers this weekend, looking for revenge (enter your best Drake impersonation now).
Earlier this month, the Mets opted not to throw at Chase Utley when the two teams met in Southern California. Playing in enemy territory, it was probably a wise decision on the part of manager Terry Collins not to incite an on field riot.
Considering most of the games played between two clubs were close, plunking Utley didn’t make much sense. However, that was earlier this month.
When Utley digs in against Jacob DeGrom on Friday, it’ll be interesting to see if the Mets are more intrigued in payback, or the actual game itself.
Obviously, no one has forgotten Utley’s malicious slide that ended Ruben Tejada‘s Met career. Although Tejada now plays for the St. Louis Cardinals, the fans of the Citi Field faithful will be out for blood, and Utley knows it.
Utley told the Los Angeles Times,
Looking back on it, knowing that he was going to spin, he wasn’t going to get off his feet, I would have done things differently, knowing that he was going to get hurt,” in a report from earlier this week. “But I can’t take that back. So I imagine the fans will let me have it.”
These are New York baseball fans we’re talking about here; you better believe they’ll let you have it, Chase.
Tensions are sure to run high, and the tone for the series could be set after the game’s first at-bat. Former New York Mets bench coach and current Dodgers bench coach Bob Geren told the LA Times, “But you look at it, and that was just the way the game has been played since I played.”
If sliding hard into second base is “just how the game gets played” then so is retaliation. You slide hard, someone is going to throw hard. It’s just the way the game gets played, right?
The real question might not be if the Mets throw at Utley, but when. They could just get it out of the way in the first at bat of the series on Friday, but the results could lead to ejections for the rest of the series and possibly beyond. The Mets already have their fair share of injuries, and may choose to go a different route. Notice how the Texas Rangers waited until the final game of their set with the Toronto Blue Jays to go after Jose Bautista? This isn’t to say the Mets will go the same route, but it’s entirely possible.
Chase Utley has been around this game for a long time. He’s a competitor, a true old school gritty ballplayer. He won’t have fear as he digs in at Citi Field.
In a simple world, Utley gets drilled, takes his base, both teams probably get a warning, and the game moves along.
Given the history between the two sides and the emotional fan base in attendance, this series probably won’t be so simple.