Without Utley in the lineup, will there still be retaliation at Citi Field?
With an appeal decision off the table for Monday, Dodgers infielder Chase Utley is not in the lineup for tonight's National League Division Series, but the recent events could still make for a pretty tense bout between the Dodgers and Mets - especially with Mets star pitcher Matt Harvey scheduled to start.
In the wake of an incident in which slide Utley slid into Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada, breaking his leg in the seventh inning of Saturday night's NLDS Game 2, all eyes will be turned to Citi Field to see what, if any retaliation there will be as the players take the field.
Utley released a statement Monday afternoon saying only that, “The Players Association and my agent are handling the appeals process. I have nothing more to say other than to reiterate that I feel terrible about Ruben's injury. Now my teammates and I are focused on Game 3 and doing everything we can to win this series."
But even though Utley wasn't scheduled to start Monday, baseball fans still weighed in on the situation and the possibility that sparks will fly during the game. Both Mets fans and non-Mets fans took to social media, weighing in on the situation. Even politicians - notably NJ Gov. Chris Christie - had harsh words about Utley.
In an article on APP.com, Christie endorsed Utley's suspension, calling the player "a dog."
“He’s a dog,” Christie on MSNBC’s Morning Joe of the former Phillies star and longtime Mets nemesis. “He’s a dog. He tackled the guy. And he’s always been that way.”
The governor will be among the 45,000 fans to attend the game tonight at Citi Field.
So will there be retaliation? NJ 101.5 news anchor and longtime Mets fan Matthew White says “This is a very tricky situation for all parties. Major League Baseball is trying diffuse the situation as much as possible, which the Mets and their fans are still irate about.The Mets have to walk the fine line of getting their justice for Chase Utley ending their shortstop’s season, but not do anything to cost themselves a pivotal playoff game. The last thing the Mets want or MLB wants is a situation where Matt Harvey gets tossed for hitting a Dodgers player, whether it’s Chase Utley or somebody else.”
“MLB attempted to take the potential Chase Utley headhunting out of the equation by suspending him for Games 3 and 4, which would also remove him from the expected wrath of the Mets fans. Citi Field is already going to be a nuthouse tonight because of the nine-year wait for a home playoff game," White said. "Putting Chase Utley in the batter’s box will create nothing short of a frenzy. MLB tried to squash this part of the plot with the suspension, but Utley decided to appeal. And since the appeal case did not get heard today, Utley is eligible to play.”
Utley remains on the active roster but not in the lineup, and there's always the possibility of him being called in as a pinch-hitter.
“Overall, the revenge and bean ball scenario will be dictated by the score and situations within the game," White added. "If this is a tight game, I do not expect Harvey to jeopardize things by hitting a Dodger early in the game and having both sides warned."
Toniann Antonelli is the digital managing editor at NJ 101.5. Reach her at email@example.com, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.