Before we begin, here's the clip of Chase "I just play the game hard" Utley breaking the leg of the Mets' shortstop Reuben Tejada from Saturday night:
Type "Mets" or "Utley" into the twitter, and you will be up to your eyeballs in hot takes. Allow me to share a a few so you get a feel:
@JimBreuer Congrats on making it on the post today with the Utley rant which was fn unreal!! pic.twitter.com/FHuccNvKa4
— Rob Kelly (@zerocool1984a) October 12, 2015
And those were the tweets that were fit to print.
Chase Utley, been a while since I as a New Yorker, but I am still legally obligated to break your leg if I see you. #Sorryforwhatwillhappen
— Sintas Vel (@sintasvelfett) October 12, 2015
I know a few New Yorkers. Might be best for Utley to stay off the streets today.
WATCH: Eric Byrnes recreates Utley slide with cardboard infielder http://t.co/EqnnAfwIFP pic.twitter.com/JTIKyjBD2z
— CBS Sports MLB (@CBSSportsMLB) October 12, 2015
Does it have to be Matt Harvey?? Also, that may not be real dirt.
Chase Utley was so far to the Left that Lizzy Warren had to help him up, alright?
— The Great Bluedini (@GreatBluedini4) October 12, 2015
Chase Utley is basically the Christopher Columbus of my heart.
— Praise for Our Teen Overlords (@theycallmedubs) October 12, 2015
Still not sure if that is good or bad.
Or as they say in Queens: "Mets baseball, where we turn the other cheek"1)This is not accurate. I doubt I can out hot-take the Utley conversation on the twitter, but regardless, this time would be better suited to explain why the umpires ruled the way they did, and the roots of the ruling in doctrines of law2)Seriously!.
The Call on the Field
So after Utley's open-field tackle3)he has decent form in hitting a guy who does not see him, Utley ran directly off the field (after being called "out"), right to the dugout to think about what he did. Upon replay, folks discovered that in the process of having his fibula fractured, Tejada never touched 2nd base. Funny enough, in breaking Tejada's leg, Utley jumped over the base and never made contact with the base either.
The Dodgers challenged the ruling the field, and once the umpires saw that Tejada did not touch the base, the call was reversed by the powers that be, and Utley4)because he was not ejected for some reason went back to second base. He eventually scored after the Dodgers rallied in the 7th inning5)Nothing will spark your team out of the doldrums like a little unnecessary, violent contact. Yes, I am a bitter Mets fan.
It has been fun to watch folks practice their statuary interpretation skills with the MLB rulebook. Let us look now:
Thank you Jared.
There is more then enough out there discussing if Utley should have been called out. This part of the issue is not all that engaging6)Remember kids, we only apply the "comment" of the rule in our statutory interpretation if the language of the statute is ambiguous. Our umpire friends are very professional, and I have little doubt that they are well-equipped to make such judgment calls7)After watching the Dodger stud starting pitching get 2 inches off the plate in either direction though, if they replaced the home plate umpire with a robot, I would not necessarily complain.
The interesting element of the play results from Utley being deemed safe at 2nd base without ever actually touching 2nd base. To understand why/how this is possible, we will need the assistance of a little contracts law..
Detrimental Reliance, Promissory Estoppel, and Chase Utley
After the umpires overturned the call and permitted Utley to return to second base, Mets manager Terry Collins went out to challenge the same call, insisting that a player cannot be safe if he never touched the bag.
This, strangely, is not true. In fact, it was a contracts concept called detrimental reliance applied in action.
How about a definition?
Determinant reliance: reliance by one party on the acts or representations of another, causing a worsening of the first party's position. Detrimental reliance may serve as a substitute for consideration and this make a promise enforceable as a contract.8)Black's Law Dictionary, Pocket Edition. 2006.
By calling Utley "out," incorrectly, Utley actually relied on the umpires to his detriment and prematurely headed back to the dugout. The umpires then had no choice but to apply the general principle of promissory estoppel9)defined as "[t]he principle that a promise made without consideration may nonetheless be enforced to prevent injustice if the promisor should have reasonably expected the promise to rely on the promise and if the promisee did actually rely on the promise to his or her detriment." Black's. to make the situation right.
The legal concept of promissory estoppel is useful for judges to make all the parties of a contractual relationship whole if one of the parties of the contract acted with good-faith reliance (to his/her detriment) in presuming that the opposite party would abide by the terms of the contract.
Although not an exact fit in baseball, a similar principle applies with regard to players and instant replay. It is not reasonable for Utley to expect that the umpire got the call wrong as he is relying on the umpires to know the rules and make correct calls.
This is the big issue with instant replay in baseball10)this issue has gone on unaddressed all year: it creates a second, fake reality once the umpires make an out call. All plays in baseball are interconnected, meaning that an "out" call on one side of the diamond will effect how the other 10 or more players on the field act subsequently. It is impossible to go back into a sequence after-the-fact and determine what would have happened if the umpires had made a correct call.
Dare I say it, but instant replay is not a good fit for baseball. Maybe for home runs, but a bright demarcation needs to be drawn after that. The best example I have is that if the umpires would have initially called Utley "safe," then there is no way for him to have been permitted back to second base upon replay because he never actually touched the base! Yes, he was declared "safe" only because he was initially called "out."
This, like all rule changes in sport, will have to wait until there is an egregious error committed on the field that affects the outcome.
Enjoy the game this evening, a New Yorker just texted me with an update that yes, the rumors are true, there currently is a bat signal projected above Gotham...
|↑1||This is not accurate|
|↑3||he has decent form in hitting a guy who does not see him|
|↑4||because he was not ejected for some reason|
|↑5||Nothing will spark your team out of the doldrums like a little unnecessary, violent contact. Yes, I am a bitter Mets fan.|
|↑6||Remember kids, we only apply the "comment" of the rule in our statutory interpretation if the language of the statute is ambiguous|
|↑7||After watching the Dodger stud starting pitching get 2 inches off the plate in either direction though, if they replaced the home plate umpire with a robot, I would not necessarily complain|
|↑8||Black's Law Dictionary, Pocket Edition. 2006.|
|↑9||defined as "[t]he principle that a promise made without consideration may nonetheless be enforced to prevent injustice if the promisor should have reasonably expected the promise to rely on the promise and if the promisee did actually rely on the promise to his or her detriment." Black's.|
|↑10||this issue has gone on unaddressed all year|