The Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets have produced their share of fireworks in head-to-head meetings since Chase Utley upended Ruben Tejada in Game 2 of the 2015 National League Division Series.
The latest issue to stem from their matchups came Wednesday night when Yasiel Puig slugged a three-run home run. Puig admired his blast and enjoyed a leisurely trot around the bases. That irked Mets first baseman Wilmer Flores and catcher Travis d’Arnaud, both of whom had words for Puig.
Yoenis Cespedes and Jose Reyes appeared to have a cordial conversation between innings, but Reyes was critical of Puig prior to the four-game finale.
Mets manager Terry Collins largely attempted to dismiss the matter, instead electing to focus on his team’s season-long struggles. But while explaining why he couldn’t predict if the teams had moved on from the incident, Collins revealed some Mets players remain mindful of Utley’s slide, per Abbey Mastracco of NJ.com:
“Now you’re asking me to get in the minds of them again and that’s impossible to do. The Chase Utley thing was two years ago and these guys still talk about it.”
Tejada sustained a fractured fibula on the play, ending his postseason. Utley received a two-game suspension but appealed and remained eligible to play throughout the NLDS. His only appearance after the slide was as a pinch-hitter in Game 5.
MLB dropped the suspension prior to last season, though new rules for slides into second base were implemented. While Tejada went on to sign with the St. Louis Cardinals, his former teammates held a grudge with Utley.
After passing on retribution during a series last season at Dodger Stadium, the Mets appeared to target Utley at Citi Field. A Noah Syndergaard fastball went behind Utley’s back, and Syndergaard was immediately ejected. He denied the pitch was intentional.
Playing amid chorus of boos and unflattering chants during that series, Utley continued to torment the Mets just as he did while with the Philadelphia Phillies. After Syndergaard was ejected, Utley went on to break a scoreless tie with a solo home run, and put the game away with a grand slam.
The Dodgers will head east and next face the Mets on Friday, Aug. 4, for the start of a three-game series.