Chicago Cubs: In wake of Utley suspension, Coghlan still has ‘no remorse’


Were Coghlan and Utley’s plays similar? Or was one more aggressive than the other?

The Chicago Cubs could have firmly been in the middle of this Chase Utley debate had they acquired him at the deadline. That may be a stretch, but the Cubs have already been through a similar situation this season. The Pirates’ Jung Ho Kang was lost for the season on a play at second base when Chris Coghlan used a takeout slide to break up the double play.

While a debate is raging in the baseball world on the “legality” of Utley’s slide–which has led to a two-game suspension by Major League Baseball, Coghlan stands behind his slide as simply hard baseball and has “no remorse”. Coghlan said he received death threats from “Korean people everywhere”. While he understands the fans’ reactions, there was no intent in the play to injure Kang.

"“But my slide was not dirty, and it’s completely legal. So I have no remorse over the slide. I just wish he hadn’t gotten hurt. I wish he would have jumped over me or gotten out of the way.’’"

The difference between the two plays may lie in the perception of the opposition. Kang–as well as the Pirates organization–felt it was a clean slide and that there was no intent on Coghlan’s part. It doesn’t change the fact the Pirates lost a key player down the stretch, but they never cried foul about it.

Utley’s slide that took out Ruben Tejada, leading to a fractured fibula, has been hotly contested around baseball. Generally the rule is interpreted as a legal slide as long as you don’t go out of the baseline and can still touch the bag. Utley’s slide would classify in that realm, but he slid very, very late which left Tejada no time to make an adjustment.

The Mets are more than fired up about it. And Cubs veteran Dan Haren gave his take on it:

“I don’t know how much could be been done to prevent it,“but I definitely think the slide was late. I played against Chase for 12 years, and he plays the game hard. Sometimes, almost to the extreme.

“You can’t prove he was trying to hurt him, but Utley has the reputation of going pretty hard to second. He does little things throughout games where he’ll block the base with his legs when people try to slide in.

Utley will appeal the suspension and could still play in New York. Now that the eyes of the game are on plays like this, you can almost guarantee something is going to change, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. Coghlan had a similar situation in 2009 while with the Marlins playing a Joe Maddon managed Rays team. A hard slide ended up tearing the ACL of Akinori Iwamura, who was out of baseball within a year.

Maddon’s take? “I never cried about that,’’ said Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who was managing the Rays at the time. “It happens. Listen, everybody wants to put everybody in a bubble anymore.

“I mean, my God, I’m really not into that. I don’t like the knee-jerk overreaction to anything. Utilize the rules that are in play, but don’t overreact to that one play.’’

I’m pretty sure you can count on an overreaction to this because of the timing of it being in the playoffs.

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