In the twelfth-inning of a tie-game, Marlins outfielder Scott Cousins took off from third-base.

As Cousins barreled toward the plate, trying to tag up and score on a fly ball hit to Giants outfielder Nate Schierholtz, one thing stood in his way: Buster Posey.

Then it happened.

The speeding Schiertholtz collided with the fortress-like Posey. Schierholtz scored the run, but it cost Posey a broken leg.

One of the league’s nastiest incidents, reminiscent of the injury sustained by Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann, prompted Major League Baseball to change its rules on home-plate collisions.

Now fans are asking whether Chase Utley’s controversial slide, or “tackle,” depending on whom you ask, should be taken out of the game.

It’s not a simple yes-or-no answer.

Let’s recap what exactly happened with Utley.

Two on, one out. Howie Kendrick hits a soft ground ball to Daniel Murphy, who tosses it softly to Ruben Tejada near second. As Tejada plants his feet and gets ready to try and throw to first, Utley slams into his legs.

The first question was whether this slide was legal.

It was.

Did Utley intend to break Tejada’s leg?

Of course not.

Legality aside, was the slide clean?

Using today’s definition, no, it wasn’t clean. But it’d be a stretch to call it dirty.

This is an example of a much worse slide.

The problem with #UtleyGate is the irrational level of outrage over this one play. If Tejada hadn’t broken his leg or turned his back to Utley while the ball was in play, it’s doubtful as many people would be angry.

Takeout slides make both players and fans wince, simply because one doesn’t know if it will result in a potential season-ending injury.

In fairness, all takeout slides are bad. It’s ridiculous to say takeout slides not resulting in injury are fine.

Where was the outrage when Jung Ho Kang was lost for the season after a Cubs baserunner took him out?

Wait. It wasn’t the playoffs. And people don’t care about the Pirates. Sorry.

During the offseason, Major League Baseball should eliminate the takeout slide in an effort to make the game safer. The best part of #Utleygate is the debate over takeout slides in general. Chanting for Utley’s head? Not so much.

Chase Utley - Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire
Chase Utley – Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire

In the end, Utley had one job. It was to break up the double play at all costs. Before people ask for him to be burned at the stake, remember that his split-second decision to break up the double play resulted in the slide. If he had hours to dissect the slide frame-by-frame, it’s likely he would admit he could have taken out Tejada in a safer way.

Stop criticizing from the comfortable reclining chairs, and focus on the more important question of whether Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon will hit a home-run if the Mets make the NLCS or World Series.

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Shane Newell
Shane Newell is pursuing his M.A. degree in data journalism at Stanford University. A lifelong Dodgers fan, Shane grew up in Southern California and graduated from Long Beach State with a B.A. in journalism in 2015. As an undergraduate, Shane worked at The Daily 49er and interned for two summers at the Orange County Register, where he specialized in local news and features. He wants to be a data journalist who tell stories through numbers and graphics. He hopes to use his data and multimedia skills to work on investigative projects across the world.

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