Jeff McNeil says Rhys Hoskins' history of 'questionable' slides reason for Opening Day blowup

There has been animosity between Jeff McNeil and Brewers first baseman Rhys Hoskins for some time now and it finally boiled over on Opening Day.

In the eighth inning of the Mets’ 3-1 loss to the Brewers on Friday afternoon, Hoskins slid late, and hard, into second base to try and break up a double play. What resulted was Hoskins sliding into McNeil’s knee, causing the infielder to fall before he sprung up and berated Hoskins, demonstratively.

The moment caused the benches, and bullpens, to clear and while no punches were thrown, verbal barbs were slung from McNeil and Hoskins. New York challenged the play, arguing Hoskins’ slide interfered with an attempted throw, but the act was deemed legal. Despite that, many in the Mets locker room felt it was late and unnecessary.

“It’s a late slide. We didn’t like it, Jeff didn’t like it but it’s legal,” Mets manager Carlos Mendoza said. “Apparently, there’s some history between them two and that’s what got Jeff heated there.”

The series of events was the result of apparent years of history between Hoskins and the Mets, including McNeil, on the basepaths.

According to various Mets, Hoskins, who enters his first season with the Brewers after spending his first six years with the Phillies from 2017-2023, has done this before and that is why McNeil was “in the right” to react the way he did.

“It’s one thing to play hard but going to get him, it’s happened before in the past when he was with Philly,” Pete Alonso said. “I know he didn't really get him that hard or slide into him but he's definitely slid past the bag and went and gotten Jeff before. It's happened a lot in the past."

Ball players know the game can be played hard at times, especially in certain situations -- like breaking up a double play -- but the Mets believe what Hoskins did went over the line.

“We haven’t played the game like that in a while. MLB took that away from us for a while, so when plays like that do happen in the middle of the game, it doesn’t look good,” Francisco Lindor said of the late slide. “When it comes to the reaction, in the heat of the moment, it’s one of those where he’s in the right to react the way he did.”

For McNeil, he knew there was a chance Hoskins would do this in a game based on past experience, and that the first baseman needs to understand the situation before trying to break up a double play that McNeil says he wasn’t trying to complete.

“We’ve had a little bit of a past so I knew there was a chance he’d be coming in like that,” McNeil said after the game. “I didn’t like his slide. I wasn’t trying to turn the double play at all, I was just trying to catch the ball, there was no need to break it up. I didn’t like it.”

McNeil said Hoskins had a history of “questionable” slides at second base when he was with the Phillies, and when asked if there’s a difference between a “hard play” and an illegal play, the Mets infielder broke it down as best he could.

“There’s dirty slides, there’s clean slides, there’s in-between slides. It’s a play at second base, this game is played hard,” he answered. “You do want to break up the play but, right there, there’s no chance. It’s a gray line. It wasn’t called. It’s unfortunate.”

Asked where he felt Hoskins’ slide fell between the three categories he listed, McNeil simply said, “It was a legal slide. Just want to leave it at that.”

The Mets and Brewers have two more games in their opening series so there are likely plenty of more incidents where Hoskins and McNeil will meet on the field. Let’s just hope Hoskins slides earlier from now on.