Manny Machado wasn’t about to be called out for lack of hustle during Game 2 of the National League Championship Series. Instead, the Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop went all out on the bases, leading to a new controversy — his aggressive sliding.
Machado was involved in two hard slides at second base during the Dodgers’ 4-0 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers in NLCS Game 3. Both were on attempted double play turns by Brewers shortstop Orlando Arcia.
The first slide worked, though it led to some debate on social media over whether the slide was dirty, and whether it violated Major League Baseball’s safer sliding rules.
The Brewers complained this Manny Machado's slide into second.
Do you think it was dirty? pic.twitter.com/a1zjAciLUt
— Yahoo Sports MLB (@MLByahoosports) October 16, 2018
Machado singled leading off the second inning, and was forced out at second base on Cody Bellinger‘s fielder’s choice. Had the Brewers challenged, there’s a chance a double play would have been ruled by replay because of where Machado’s right arm ended up. The Brewers didn’t challenge though, likely because Arcia didn’t attempt a throw.
In the fourth inning, it was the exact same scenario. Only this time Arcia attempted a throw that flew wildly and nearly landed in the Brewers dugout. This time, the Brewers challenged whether the slide was illegal, and the umpires on the field, aided by the replay umpires in New York, decided it violated the rule, leading to a double play.
.@Brewers challenge call that Manny Machado did not violate slide rule at 2B in the 4th; call overturned, violation.
— MLB Replay (@MLBReplays) October 16, 2018
“On the first one I didn’t think there was anything wrong,” Orlando Arcia said following Game 3. “On the second one definitely felt a little more, he grabbed my knee towards the end, that’s when I turned around and said something to the umpire. And I looked over to the dugout and thankfully in the dugout they noticed, and some guys on the video room noticed it, too, and challenged it.”
Chase Utley Rule
The Dodgers were directly involved in the play that led to MLB’s rule change. Chase Utley, who’s still with the Dodgers but is not on the postseason roster, broke the leg of New York Mets shortstop Rubén Tejada on a hard slide during the 2015 NLDS.
Utley was initially suspended two games, but appealed and had the suspension overturned the following spring based on the language in league’s previous rule. The new rule, Rule 6.01, which is effectively known as the Utley Rule, clearly states that the runner must begin his slide before reaching the base, and must be close enough to the base to reach it. It also says he must stay on the base all the way through his slide.
Machado was fine to that point. But the fourth component is that the runner can’t change his path to knock over a fielder.
In both instances, Machado goes off his path enough by raising his arm and making unnecessary contact with Arcia. That’s exactly what the league is trying to eliminate. It’s an easy call for the umpire to make.
Machado’s past slide controversy
It’s also not the first time a Manny Machado slide has led to controversy. An aggressive slide against Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia late season ignited a season-long battle between the teams. There were intentional plunkings and harsh words, which forced the league to get involved.
The Brewers seemed to move on from the Game 3 incident after the umpires changed the call. But Machado’s sliding will likely remain under a microscope.
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