Let's not mince words: Matt Holliday's slide into second base that took out Marco Scutaro was dirty and it was illegal.
Trying to defend that slide would make you either desperate, blind ... or a Cardinal. Because St. Louis is doing its best to try and get Holliday's back, even though his back was well past the bag when he took out Scutaro.
Holliday himself, of course, isn't capitulating to the fact that the slide was dirty.
"I felt bad. When a guy has to leave the game, it bothers me," Holliday said. "I hope he's OK. I hope it's precautionary. I'm a human being, I hope he's not injured."
Bruce Bochy would disagree, sir.
"I really think they got away with an illegal slide there," Bochy said. "He really didn't hit the dirt until he was past the bag. That rule was changed a while back. Marco was behind the bag and got smoked. It's a shame somebody got hurt because of this. He got hit pretty good, and that's a big guy running."
Scutaro got hit good, alright. And if it costs him time, it could dramatically alter the outcome of this series -- Scutaro is hitting .250 in the playoffs and batting .500 in the NLCS. He's a critical player for the Giants.
Of course, if the slide was clean and legal, why would Holliday be apologizing in the first place?
"I'm not a dirty player," he said. "I was just trying to keep us out of the double play. I hope he's OK. He's a good guy. I told Buster to tell Marco I wish I started my slide earlier, and obviously I wasn't trying to hurt him."
Brandon Crawford might disagree -- the Giants shortstop said on Monday night he's had Holliday "do the same" to him before, even though he doesn't think Holliday had any "dirty intent."
"It was late. It has hard and late, but I 'm sure there was no dirty intent or anything like that, I'm sure he wasn't trying to hurt him. He was just trying to break up a double play, it was just a little later than he should have (slid)," Crawford said. "I know that he slides in hard -- he did the same to me, not as hard, but he did the same to me in St. Louis. I knew he was coming hard, he just came in later than he planned on."
And, of course, not breaking news, but Holliday's teammates got his back. Like Daniel Descalso, Cardinals second baseman.
"A good second baseman's going to hang in there like Scutaro did. He did a great job hanging onto the ball and making a good throw to first base," Descalso said. "A lot of guys would throw that ball in the dirt and a runs scores, which is why you go hard into second, especially when there's a guy on second. If he throws the ball away there, it's another run for us. He did a great job of hanging in there and had enough on the throw to make it close. That's a hard-nosed baseball play."
Hard-nosed baseball play is often code for "possibly dirty but I can't say that because I have to get my guy's back." Just like when you say that a slide was "probably a little bit late," right, Lance Berkman?
"(It was) probably a little bit of a late slide. I think most anybody who saw it say that. I think the thing to remember, you have to give Matt the benefit of the doubt because he's not a dirty player," Berkman said. "He plays hard, but I think he's well respected in the game and the other side knows that. Sometimes in the heat of the moment you can lose track of where you are on the field. I can understand wanting a good, aggressive lead and you're just trying to break the double play up and you're sliding into the guy and you don't realize your three feet beyond the bag. I think that's how it came about."
Holliday is well-respected and he's a heck of a baseball player. No one's going to accuse him of being a terror on the basepaths who's out to injure people. That's not him.
But when you see where he slid (above) and you think about when he slid (in the NLCS) and consider the impact it might have, it's hard not to wonder if he couldn't have gone to the ground a little bit earlier than he did.