Chase Utley's cataclysmic slide into Ruben Tejada on Saturday night instantly reminded New York sports fans of a certain age of another infamous collision at second base during a Mets playoff game.
It occurred in Game 3 of the 1973 NLCS at Shea Stadium, when the Reds' Pete Rose ran into Mets shortstop Bud Harrelson in an attempt to break up a double play. Harrelson and Rose got into a brawl that prompted fans to pelt Rose with debris and Reds manager Sparky Anderson to temporarily pull his team off the field.
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"I tend to agree with what a lot of baseball people are saying: That it was a cheap shot," Harrelson said Sunday before Major League Baseball announced a two-game suspension for Utley. "The Pete Rose slide came on the heels of Pete saying he was coming after me to fire up the Reds; instead, he fired up the Mets and we won the series. I think we will see something similar here."
Rose addressed the matter in his role as an analyst on Fox Sports 1's ALDS pregame show: "First of all, Chase Utley is not a dirty player. He's not even overly aggressive, as far as I'm concerned. But he did slide late."
Rose blamed second baseman Daniel Murphy's errant toss to Tejada, which caused him to be in an awkward position when Utley reached him.
"It's the kind of deal where if you're Utley's teammates, you give him a high-five," Rose said. "And if you're the Mets, you're mad and you can't wait to get even with him somehow."
Harrelson said he feels badly for Tejada and urged MLB to seek rules to protect middle infielders.
"Joe Torre said something I agree with -- that they would be looking at it in the offseason," Harrelson said. "But it's kind of already a little late. In my era, runners could cross-body-block you and after a while, they took it away. If you didn't touch the base, you were out. In this situation, they need to look at that."
Rose cautioned against changing things too much. "We can't pitch inside; now we won't be able to break up double plays?" he said. "What's baseball coming to?"
With Mark Herrmann