Jul 30, 2023; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets second baseman Jeff McNeil (1) slides into third base after hitting a RBI triple against the Washington Nationals during the third inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

The slide by Rhys Hoskins that ignited Jeff McNeil and the baseball world alike is still a hot topic a week later. Opinions are divided, but many former players, particularly those from a bygone era, seem to side with Hoskins. And interestingly, some of their criticism is directed at McNeil’s reaction to the play.

The sixth inning of Saturday’s matchup between the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies was a callback to the Opening Day brouhaha in Flushing. From the nation’s capital, Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto hit a chopper down to third base, forcing Bryce Harper out at second.

Harper’s aggressive slide into second forced Nationals shortstop Ildemaro Vargas to scramble and make a quick throw. Despite a good relay, the speedy Realmuto legged out the close play at first.

Harper’s slide got praise from MASN analyst Kevin Frandsen, who was a utility infielder across nine seasons in MLB.

“Did he yell at Bryce for getting near him?” Frandsen, who was taking an apparent shot at McNeil, asked. “That’s part of the game. I love that. When you see a second baseman flying across, jumping up a little bit, right? When you see that athleticism, that’s missed.

Frandsen last played in 2015 with the San Francisco Giants, which is notable because the Chase Utley rule was implemented before the start of the 2016 season. This rule requires baserunners to make a legitimate slide into second base to break up a double play. They can’t just make contact with the fielder in an attempt to break up the play.

Though both Harper and Hoskins stayed within the rules, Hoskins’ slide ignited a firestorm for a reason. Harper’s aggressive dig into second was a textbook hustle play, and he arrived just in time. As for Hoskins, his late arrival and forceful contact with McNeil blurred the lines between aggressive baserunning and a reckless play that could injure a defender.

Frandsen’s playful jab might have landed poorly, considering McNeil and Hoskins’ history. Their previous clashes explained why McNeil reacted so strongly to Hoskins’ aggressive slide, something that’s clearly pushed the limits in their past encounters. Whether McNeil’s reaction is justified is debatable, but the two slides have a substantial difference.

Announcers haven’t had a problem criticizing the Mets, particularly their own, but this seemed like an opportunity Frandsen couldn’t pass up to express his deep admiration for hard-nosed players.

[Awful Announcing on X]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.