Benches clear in Mets-Crew opener after aggressive slide

March 29th, 2024

NEW YORK -- says he had no intention of turning a double play in the eighth inning on Friday. Because Brett Baty’s throw from third base was low, McNeil did not have enough time to catch the ball, pivot, and throw out Willy Adames running down the first-base line. He knew that. didn’t. Approaching the second-base bag at full speed, Hoskins slid and knocked McNeil to his knees, kicking the ball out of his glove.

As McNeil clambered to his feet, he pointed at Hoskins and began yelling at him. The Mets second baseman considered the play unnecessary if not outright dirty. Hoskins tried “to put a spike in someone’s leg,” as McNeil put it. Hoskins disagreed. So did the replay crew, which studied the slide on review and ruled it legal.

“Just a late slide,” McNeil said, citing a history of “some pretty questionable slides” from Hoskins at second base. “We’ve had a little bit of a past, so I knew that there was a chance he’d be coming in like that. I just didn’t like his slide.”

As McNeil jawed at Hoskins, both benches and bullpens emptied, but only verbal jabs were exchanged. Umpires quickly restored order in what became a 3-1 Brewers win over the Mets.

“I'm just trying to play baseball, right?” Hoskins said. “We've got a chance in the eighth with a runner on to tack on another run, and the last thing I want to do is give them a clear lane to make a double play. A certain someone took -- McNeil took -- exception to my slide, but I didn't really think much of it, to be honest. I ended up hitting him, but that's what happens with a slow-developing play where I’m trying to make sure he doesn’t turn the double play.”

The Mets are plenty familiar with MLB’s slide rule, which the league amended after the 2015 season in part because of a late Chase Utley slide during the National League Division Series that broke Ruben Tejada’s leg. The current rule states that a runner must make a “bona fide slide,” defined as:

  • The runner making contact with the ground before reaching the base
  • The runner being able to reach the base with a hand or foot
  • The runner being able to remain on the base at the completion of the slide (except at home plate)
  • And the runner not changing his path for the purpose of initiating contact with a fielder

Hoskins checked all those boxes on his slide into second, grabbing the base with his right hand and gripping it even as most of his body slid beyond. But Mets players cited the difference between an illegal slide and what Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor called an “ugly play.”

“Whenever something like that does happen, it doesn’t look good,” Lindor said. “I feel like it was a late slide, but they didn’t call it illegal. So it’s a legal, late slide. … He wasn’t going at the base.”

“There’s dirty slides, there’s clean slides, there’s in-between slides,” McNeil added. “It’s a gray line. It wasn’t called. It’s unfortunate. … It was a legal slide, so I just want to leave it at that.”

Brewers manager Pat Murphy challenged the notion of it being a dirty play.

“Just good, hard-nosed baseball,” was how Murphy defined it. “We expect that out of all of our guys, and we expect it out of all of our opponents.”

Part of McNeil’s anger stemmed from the Mets’ history with Hoskins, a long-time Phillie who has drawn New York’s ire in the past. Most notably, a night after Mets reliever Jacob Rhame threw two pitches near Hoskins’ head during a 2019 game at Citi Field, prompting benches to empty, Hoskins homered off Rhame and took 34 seconds to round the bases.

McNeil also expressed surprise that Hoskins, who missed all last season rehabbing from a torn ACL in his left knee, would attempt such a slide in his first regular-season game back from injury. Although Hoskins didn’t immediately rise to his feet following the incident, he said he had no qualms about his health. Instead, Hoskins “was just letting whatever McNeil needed to get out, let him get it out.”

“I’ve played in this ballpark a bunch, and he's just -- he seems to be complaining when things aren’t going well, and I think that's one of those moments,” Hoskins said. “Maybe lost in the heat of the game a little bit. But again, I think it’s just playing the game hard and playing the game the right way.”