Okay, let me get this stuff out of the way:

• I think it was a dirty slide, but with no intent to injure.

• I think it should have been ruled interference in accordance with Rule 5.09 (a)(13).

• I think the rulebook is too complicated when it requires two sets of parenthesis to define a single rule.

• I support the thought to suspend Utley.

• I don’t think there’s any chance the suspension is upheld, due to the lack of precedent.

• I’m pretty sure I read in the unwritten rules that if a middle infielder injures another player on a slide, it’s not a fastball to the ribs that’s earned, it’s a spikes-up slide.

• If this had happened to the Kansas City Royals, Yordano Ventura probably would’ve earned his suspension before Utley got his.

• I think that the idea of the “baseline” and what is considered going out of it is harder to define than love, and even if we had all the poets pursuing that definition, none of them would be any closer than a Britney Spears pop song.

• Somewhere, Marco Scutaro is all “I wish they all cared about me so much,” and Matt Holliday is watching the St. Louis Blues and thinking “I need to practice my hip check again.”

So that’s my asshol-er, opinion.  But there’s enough of that going around.  The deed is done.  Utley is going to keep playing, though it may not matter.  If the Mets move on, they are shorthanded.

There’s few things that are guaranteed coming out of this, so let’s discuss the biggest thing: the new rule.  Because that’s happening.

Players and so-called macho-men will stop focusing on Jessica Mendoza and instead point to any proposed new rule as the wussification of the sport.  Injured players are just a casualty of war to them, a few levels outside their monkey sphere.  Until it happens to their guy, of course.

That said, I don’t want to take too much of the competition away from the game, so here’s my advice.

• Enforce Rule 5.09(a) (13).

For your reference:

A batter is out when —

(m) A preceding runner shall, in the umpire’s judgment, intentionally interfere with a fielder who is attempting to catch a thrown ball or to throw a ball in an attempt to complete any play:

Rule 5.09 (a) (13) Comment: The objective of this rule is to penalize the offensive team for deliberate, unwarranted, unsportsmanlike action by the runner in leaving the baseline for the obvious purpose of crashing the pivot man on a double play, rather than trying to reach the base. Obviously this is an umpire’s judgment play.

Easy enough, right?

• To help enforcement of this rule, make it reviewable.

This is going to kill the people who still hate replays, but let’s be real.  In any force play at a base other than first, the umpire is out of position to properly judge what is “out of the baseline”.  And that umpire has to be where he is for the other things he needs to judge.  This is what replay is for.

Sure, it’s a judgement call in some ways.  But to help with that…

• Strictly define what is the baseline, and what constitutes the runner going out of it.

Right now, the closest definition to the baseline is this (from rule 7.09 (a) (1):

A runner’s baseline is established when the tag attempt occurs and is a straight line from the runner to the base he is attempting to reach safely

Elsewhere in that rule, it defines running out of the baseline being three feet in either direction of that straight line.  That’s…a lot of room when you’re talking about a slide into a base.  It’s reasonable when discussing avoiding a tag (and perhaps too narrow).  There’s also no definitions about the baseline extending (or not extending) past the base, where much of the offending contact usually occurs.

• Adopt the AFL rule with a caveat: The baserunner must slide directly into the base on a force play.

No limitations on tag plays.  This would clearly make the slide into Ruben Tejada illegal, though other plays (such as the Carpenter/Scutaro play) may not be.

• A slide must begin before passing the bag.

Again, the Tejada play, and the Scutaro play, would become illegal with this.  Is this too much of a judgement call?  It isn’t for football, where the refs routinely have to judge where a quarterback began his slide to spot the ball.

• On a force play, the fielder must not put himself between the runner and the base, unless forced to in an attempt to field the ball.

This is a modification of the limitations of catchers blocking the plate.  Basically, if you’re fielding and about to turn a throw, step to the side.  Honestly, they should be doing that now, to throw around the oncoming runner.

• With these rules, eliminate the notion of the Neighborhood Play.

With infielders protected by this, no more of the neighborhood rule not being reviewable due to the need to allow fielders to protect themselves.  Clearly, that didn’t help Tejada.

So, that’s my suggestion.  Let me know what you think!