After Mark Ellis nearly lost his leg after getting hit by a Tyler Greene take-out slide earlier this season, anytime a sliding base runner comes barreling toward a second baseman looking to break up a double play I cringe. Yesterday’s late slide by Matt Holliday in the second game of the NLCS was one of those cringe worthy plays. Some criticized Matt’s slide into San Francisco’s Marco Scutaro. Bruce Bochy thought the play was illegal, and others said he was playing “dirty.” I don’t feel that Holliday was intentionally looking to injure Scutaro, but his slide was definitely too late. It didn’t begin until he was behind the second base bag. Take-out slides and home plate collisions are a part of the game, but I argue that consciously making the decision to cause a potentially injurious impact should not be tolerated in MLB.
Mark Ellis nearly lost his left leg after then Cardinal Tyler Greene tried to break up a double play on May 18th. Ellis had to undergo a fasciotomy to relieve pressure and bleeding in his leg. If he had waited several more hours without the surgical procedure, the muscle in the leg could have died. The injury occurred during the seventh inning in a game between the Cardinals and the Dodgers. Mark Ellis jumped over the sliding Greene who prevented Ellis from making the throw on a double play ball by taking him out. At first, Ellis was shaken up but stayed in the game. He even led off in the next inning for the Dodgers, but he was later removed from the game in the eighth inning. It was unknown to Dodger fans just how bad the injury was until later when it was announced that he was in the hospital. Through his first 37 games with the Dodgers, Ellis was hitting .273 and provided solid defense at second base. On July 4th, Mark Ellis was activated from the DL after recovering surprisingly quickly from the leg injury. What looked like a routine play to break up a double play turned out to be a career threatening injury for the veteran infielder.
So when another St. Louis player took out San Francisco second baseman Scutaro, Dodger fans could relate to the scare even though the player on the
wrong end was a pumpkin colored rival. I could even say without bias that Holliday’s was less of a legitimate slide than Greene’s was. Scutaro could not get out of the way of the former football player, and his left hip was strained and knee sore. The Cardinals and Giants have a history of bad blood, and Holliday wasn’t about to let that be forgotten after his first inning debate spurring slide. Marco Scutaro got the last word in after he cleared the bases with a single in the fourth inning. Matt Holliday made an error in left field (a common occurrence in the postseason) on the play which allowed a third run to score and gave the Giants a 5-1 lead. Scutaro was taken out of the game in the sixth inning and was listed as day-to-day. He is expected to play on Wednesday for Game 3 of the NLCS.
Holliday admitted that he should have begun his slide earlier, and he didn’t mean to injure Scutaro who he feels is a “good guy.” It could have been the adrenaline of the game, or perhaps it was just lousy base running by Holliday. Fortunately Scutaro, who has been the surprise spark plug for San Francisco, will likely be fine. Mark Ellis wasn’t so lucky. It just goes to show you that a seemingly routine play can turn tragic. I feel that MLB should work to discourage these “take-out” sort of plays in order to protect the players from injury. While breaking up double plays with hard slides and home plate collisions with catchers is a part of the game, perhaps the fine line between playing hard and deliberately trying to uproot a opposing player was blurred in this case. While I don’t think Holliday should be severely punished, maybe the umpires will take notice next time and call the slider out on a double play or interference in extreme cases where they feel there was a deliberate attempt to slide into the second base man rather than the bag. Dodger fans know the pain of losing their second base man on a similar play. Whether a player is wearing a Blue or a black and orange uniform, we never like to see a player get injured.
Do you think Holliday’s slide was legitimate? Sound off in the comments.