Matt Holliday says he's no..."/> Matt Holliday says he's no..."/>

Regardless of Intent, Holliday’s Slide a Dirty Play


St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday says he’s not a dirty player, but the first inning slide that knocked Marco Scutaro into next week wreaked of a dirty play.

Holliday barely made contact with the bag on his way to plowing into Scutaro. Image: US Presswire

In the first inning of Monday’s NLCS Game Two, the Cardinals had runners at first and second with one out. Allen Craig grounded a possible double-play ball ad Holliday did his best to make sure Scutaro, playing second base for the Giants, couldn’t complete the throw to first.

Scutaro stayed in the game for a while, but was eventually removed with a hip injury.

You’ll hear plenty of people talk about intent in this situation, as if that makes a difference. I doubt that anyone in their right mind thinks that Holliday’s intent on the play was to injure Scutaro, but that really doesn’t matter because Holliday’s slide was so reckless that injury became possible.

Any middle infielder understands that these kind of plays are possible, but there are, or should be, reasonable expectations that opposing players won’t go out of their way to roll block the fielder. Holliday’s slide was so late that the first contact he made after leaving his feet was on the top of the bag. He never touched the ground before arriving at second base. Scutaro is behind the bag, using it as protection, just as he should be. But Holliday’s ultra-aggressive slide made Scutaro’s positioning moot.

I understand the magnitude of the game, but I also understand the game situation. This is the top of the first inning. Runners were at first and second, there was no way a run would have scored on the play. If runners had been on the corners, for instance, and Holliday’s take-out “slide” may have allowed a run to score, I could almost give it a pass. The slide would have still been far too late (and yes, dirty), but at least it would have been easier to sell the whole just-trying-to-play-hard-and-win-a-game thing the Cardinals were preaching after the contest ended.

It was poetic justice that Scutaro’s base hit to left field in the fourth inning got past Holliday and allowed three runs to score, giving the Giants an insurmountable lead. Unfortunately, Scutaro’s status is up in the air going forward.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy voiced his displeasure over the Holliday slide after the game, as did catcher Buster Posey. Most of the rest of the team played it off by saying they hadn’t seen the play or that the focus shouldn’t be there. Those players are right, of course, the focus should remain on trying to win three more games and getting back to the World Series and there is no way they should jeopardize that possibility by attempting to retaliate against Holliday.

That revenge should take place on May 31, 2013, when the Giants meet the Cardinals for the first time next season.