Jose Bautista slide sparks controversy in Blue Jays loss
New rule governing double-play breakups costs Toronto
The Toronto Blue Jays have only played three games of their 2016 campaign, but slugger Jose Bautista's play has already managed to drum up some controversy.
With the bases loaded and one out in the ninth inning of Tuesday's game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion hit a grounder to third base. After taking a throw from Evan Longoria for the force at second, the Rays' Logan Forsythe made an errant relay to first that appeared to allow the go-ahead run to score for the Blue Jays.
Upon review of the play, replay umpires in New York ruled that Jose Bautista had violated the new "Chase Utley Rule" governing slides on potential double plays. It was determined that he slid inside the bag to illegally hinder Forsythe, who also happened to score the game-winning run in the Rays' eventual 3-2 victory.
Opinion was split on the decision, which claimed Bautista violated Rule 6.01(j). The rule is meant to deter runners from intentionally interfering with a fielder for the purpose of breaking up a double play.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons made it clear after the game that he does not like the rule.
"Maybe we'll come out wearing dresses tomorrow," Gibbons said. "Maybe that's what everybody's looking for.
"It turned the game into a joke. That's flat embarrassing. That cost us a chance to win a major league game."
Bautista disagreed with the call as well.
"I feel like I respect the rule, that it was an absolutely clean slide," Bautista said. "And it's just disappointing to lose a major league baseball game, with so much at stake every day here. We put a lot into the game since we were little kids and then to all of a sudden have everything taken away like that is just strange."
Despite the Blue Jays' protests — echoed by many of their fans — some argued that what Bautista did was not legal even before the Utley Rule was put in place.
Just saw Bautista replay. Not sure that's the new slide rule. Pretty sure that's the old you can't trip the infielder with your hand rule.—@WayneRandazzo
It's a shame we have to cite the "Utley rule" on the Bautista play. What Bautista did was never a legal play.—@matthewpouliot
So Bautista reaches out to grab a foot, clearly on purpose, and people are upset?—@IneffectiveMath
With files from the Associated Press