However, I found myself in a position on Saturday where I felt I was on the polar opposite side of pretty much every New York fan in the tristate area.
I sided with Public Enemy #1: Chase Utley.
Call me a hater, call me crazy, but I had no issue with Chase Utley’s controversial takeout slide in Game 2 of the Division Series that broke the leg of Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada.
I feel terribly for Tejada. The kid worked all season and had a terrific year, but unfortunately was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Yes, you can make the argument that Utley’s slide was a little late and that he slid a little high, but this is nothing new for anyone watching the game of baseball.
Maybe I’m old school, but to me in a one-run game and as the runner at first base, you need to make sure you do everything in your power to break up the double-play.
It’s what I’ve been taught since I started playing the game. Go in hard, break up the double-play, case closed.
If you want to change the rule, that’s an entirely different conversation. The argument can easily be made that if you cannot truck a catcher, why can you destroy a shortstop's leg?
However, currently there are no rules in place protecting middle infielders as far when a baserunner decides to break up a double-play.
With the rule being the way that it is, as far as I’m concerned Chase Utley did nothing wrong.
This is not a new phenomenon either. You can find other instances of hard takeout slides throughout the postseason, and I’m sure many of you remember what Hal McRae did to Willie Randolph in the 1977 ALCS.
Takeout slides, at least for as long as I’ve been watching baseball, are simply a part of the game.
Utley is a throwback. He’s not chummy with the opposing teammates, he throws his body around with reckless abandon, and you can sense that even though he is not the player he was in his Philadelphia days, he’s still a guy who loves playing the game of baseball.
The slide at second base sums up Chase Utley to me in a nutshell. He’s gritty, hard-nosed and a guy who would do anything to win you a ballgame.
He’s the sort of player who could play for my team any day of the week.
Let’s reverse the roles here for a minute. Although I fully expect most Mets fans to detest every living fiber in Chase Utley’s body, think about this for a minute: If your team was down a game in a postseason series, down a run in the seventh inning and a player on your team made absolutely sure a double-play was broken up and changed the entire momentum of the game, would you want that player on your team?
The answer to that question is an obvious yes.
If Chase Utley played for the Mets all these years, he would without question be a fan favorite.
However, that has not been the case and Utley will go down in history as one of the all time greatest Met foes over the years.
You may not have to like him, but I find myself appreciating a good old throwback even in the twilight of his career.
JJ’s Week 6 NFL Unlocks of the Week (12-11-2)
• New England -7.5
• Arizona -4
• Carolina +7
• Philadelphia -3.5
• Miami +2.5 You can listen to me Sunday from 2-6 a.m., Wednesday 10-2 a.m. & Friday 10-1 a.m. on WFAN.