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Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons speaks to an umpire during the eighth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.Kim Klement

Only three games into the baseball season, the Toronto Blue Jays proved they are in mid-season fighting form. Heavy emphasis on "fighting."

In the top of the ninth inning of Tuesday's game, the Jays thought they'd taken the lead on a one-out, bases-loaded Edwin Encarnacion ground-ball out.

Instead, the game was ended after the application of baseball's new "Chase Utley Rule,"which is designed to protect fielders from takeout slides.

After video review, Jose Bautista was judged to have interfered with Tampa Bay's attempt to turn the double play.

Soon thereafter, everybody in Toronto vacated the mental reservation. This wasn't an "It's the regular season and we're a little cranky"-type freak-out. This was a "Game 3 of the World Series and we're going to turn all the furniture in the visitor's clubhouse into kindling"-level stuff.

Manager John Gibbons was out on the field frothing. Back in his office for a post-game scrum, Gibbons – a gentle-hearted soul – went off on the most epic rant of his eight-year managerial career.

"We turned the game into a joke. That's flat-out embarrassing. That cost us a chance to win a major-league game. Was that the intent? Well, you know, that's probably the result you're going to get. I was talking to some guys in spring training and said, 'Wait till it happens where it ends a game, a major-league game.' It didn't end it, but we ended up taking the lead. It's really an embarrassment."

Gibbons was so exercised, he made an ill-judged comment at the end about "coming out tomorrow and wearing dresses."

Bautista was just as put out, but more measured in his complaints. "Seething" seemed to be the right word.

"I felt like I respected the rule and it's just disappointing and somewhat embarrassing to lose a major-league baseball game with so much at stake."

Okay, everyone – breathe. Breathe in deeply. Do you feel yourself relaxing? No. Well, fine. Just keep breathing.

Perhaps its time to look at the rule, colloquially named for the Chase Utley after he broke Ruben Tejada's leg with a kamikaze into second during last year's playoffs.

It's a bit complicated, but it comes down to this – any slide that is not simply an effort to reach the bag is interference. No jumping in the air. No kicking up your legs. No deviant paths. No over-sliding. And unless he's standing directly in your way, no touching the fielder. The onus is now on the runner to avoid the defender, rather than the other way around.

Here's a small problem with the Jays' post-game rage – Bautista broke the rule. There's no honest arguing about that.

As he slid past, Bautista reached out his left hand and attempted to grab Rays' second baseman Logan Forsythe's leg. Also, since he had no expectation of being safe, he overslid the bag.

Bautista can go on all the livelong day on a "What am I supposed to do?" monologue, but he was clearly trying to unsettle Forsythe. That is specifically what the rule is designed to prevent. From now on, if you want to break up a double play, you do that by not hitting into a double play. You don't do it on the basepaths.

Is this all less manly, as Gibbons and Sportsnet TV analyst Gregg Zaun (who called it a "sissy" move) would have it? Possibly.

I'm not sure how manly anyone feels when they're getting their ankles scythed in half, so we'll just call that one a draw.

One of the great arguments of our sporting times is "How much violence am I allowed to enjoy?" I'm not sure where you come down on this, but my answer would be "As much as people sign up for." Fighters and their ilk agree to hurt and be hurt. I'm okay with self-determination as a general rule.

But nobody signs up for this in baseball. You will never hear a fielder arguing for the toughest possible iteration of the sport. Because they aren't cool with exceedingly large, fast men running into them with intent. They accept that it happens sometimes, but not happily and not as a matter of course.

This is no different than running the catcher, which everyone has agreed is a pointless and occasionally nauseating practice drawn from the tough-guy code.

Players like Bautista want to argue about intent. After the game, he was breaking down the slide like the Zapruder film. There was a nice detour into sophistry: "Did I reach out to make him avoid me? Perhaps."

There was a lot of time spent trying to figure out where his hands are or aren't supposed to be. (Hint: Not around the guy's leg.) You can get lost down that path forever. If you're asking umpires to use their judgment in every instance, nothing will ever change. And we'll be arguing about this forever (which has its own charms).

But if you want to eliminate the takeout slide in all its forms, from brutish to cunning, you enforce the rule. You enforce it consistently and ruthlessly. And especially when it costs someone the game.

They can stamp their collective feet and invoke the decline of the game in its perfect, Ted-Williams-on-a-sunny-day-in-May form, but there is no arguing that anyone was cheated out of a win last night. They weren't.

Toronto lost because they weren't really paying attention. I'll guarantee you baseball's rules committee has the Blue Jays' attention now.

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