The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the appeal hearing for Chase Utley’s two-game suspension will take place next Monday, meaning that he will be available to play in Game 4 of the NLDS, as well as Game 5 if the Dodgers win tonight.
Utley was suspended for games 3 and 4 after breaking Ruben Tejada’s leg with a takeout slide in Game 2. MLB’s punishment was unprecedented, and clearly meant to make an example of Utley while nudging the game toward stricter enforcement of rules meant to prevent dangerous takeout slides.
The latter goal may yet come to fruition, but MLB is going to look pretty silly if Utley sees the field tonight or in Game 5. The league went pretty far out on a limb by suspending Utley—every season features at least half-a-dozen slides that are just as dirty as Utley’s that don’t draw suspensions—and now it doesn’t really have anything to show for it.
Even if Utley loses his appeal—and there’s a good chance he won’t, given the many examples of similar and un-punished slides he can point to—MLB won’t be able to get him off the field until two games into the NLCS. And if the Dodgers don’t advance that far, it’s fairly likely that Utley will be retired come next April. In all likelihood, this whole saga will end with MLB making up the rules as it goes along and having nothing to show for it but an unscathed Chase Utley.