Even for those who opt for the same, “right” side of the bed in regard to the Chase Utley slide/suspension soap opera as yours truly.
No bones have been made here. The act was a dirty one by the former Phillies/current Dodgers second baseman and deserved retribution, especially considering it resulting in a broken leg for Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada. MLB concurred and levied a mandatory, two-day reprieve from the ballpark for Utley.
Good … if the punishment eventually is upheld.
Apparently, Philly Daily News columnist Marcus Hayes agreed as well.
Unfortunately, in sharing his rationale for readers out there, Hayes couldn’t contain himself from being an idiot, and a lazy one at that. In falling back on the tired depiction of an over-achieving (read: white) athlete to complement Utley, backhand style, Hayes did his own takeout slide with words.
Sorry, it doesn’t even matter how he dressed it up.
The reality is, what he wrote was highly flammable and ridiculously racist. Not to mention the fact it was flat-out wrong.
Utley was blessed with “marginal athleticism?” Really, do tell ...
Not for nothing, but there are no marginal athletes who play a middle infield position, pretty much at any level, not just in the majors. To be a shortstop or second baseman requires a level of quickness, hand-eye coordination and body control that surpasses anything average never mind marginal, especially when it comes to turning a double play like Utley succeeded in doing himself hundreds of times and then in destroying for Tejada Saturday night.
Reality check: Utley was a five-tool player in his prime. He was arguably the best all-around player in MLB for a five-year span, 2005-09. Sorry, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard fans, neither of your guys elicit similar proclamations.
Well, with actual merit behind them.
Sure, you could argue that Rollins was/is more athletic. Same thing with former Phillies teammates Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino. But who’s arguing that?
Thing is, to label Utley as a marginal athlete completely wipes away any credibility by the person doing the labeling.
The silliness is that many confuse gracefulness with athleticism. Oh, they can coexist, no doubt, and the combo can create almost visual nirvana at times for those who follow sports. But they are not mandatory partners. Meaning, you can be graceful without being athletic. You also can be athletic without being graceful.
Utley would be the latter, with those stuck wearing blinders confusing hustle and intensity and intelligence as somehow covering up a lack of athletic ability.
He could run, he could throw, he could field, he could hit, and he could hit for power. Again, hello, a five-tool player.
Utley didn’t exceed any boundaries set by his skill set. He used exactly what he had to the max – an example that most athletes would be wise to follow.
All that being said, he still deserved a suspension for that slide Saturday night, and for Hayes’ DN colleague Ryan Lawrence and others to fall back on the “no precedent” rationale as the argument to erase the suspension … puh-leeze.
For starters, life is about evolving. To police such unnecessary, injury-threatening acts is a step forward, not backward. Hmmm, Hal McRae’s slide into Willie Randolph in the 1977 ALCS was worse. Great, let’s continue with blind-eye faith to old-school garbage because we don’t have the balls to change.
Also, Utley, right now, is a second-stringer anymore who looked positively pathetic in a pinch-hit role the night before. Do you really think his presence in the lineup in that important?
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly certainly didn’t think so Monday and Tuesday.
- Jack Kerwin | email@example.com