LOS ANGELES -- Chase Utley is one of the very few people in baseball who knows what Manny Machado might feel on Friday when he steps onto the field at Miller Park for Game 6 of the National League Championship Series.Utley has been the villain, too.:: NLCS schedule and results
LOS ANGELES -- Chase Utley is one of the very few people in baseball who knows what Manny Machado might feel on Friday when he steps onto the field at Miller Park for Game 6 of the National League Championship Series.
Utley has been the villain, too.
:: NLCS schedule and results ::
Utley famously took out Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada on a hard slide into second base in Game 2 of the 2015 NLDS at Dodger Stadium. The play broke Tejada's leg. The controversy surrounding it prompted Major League Baseball to create a rule to better protect infielders. It became known as the Chase Utley Rule. But in the immediate aftermath of an emotionally charged series, New York fans wanted retribution. Utley expected that. He expected to be booed when the series moved to Citi Field in Queens for Games 3 and 4.
Utley did not, however, expect death threats against his family.
"I mean, from a personal perspective, it was not the best of times," Utley said on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium. "I'm all for the home team booing the opposing player and giving him a hard time. But not when it extends past the baseball field, when it gets a little out of hand."
Machado is likely to be booed following an altercation with Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar in Game 4, but the vitriol from Crew fans is unlikely to match the levels in New York. Machado dragged his left leg over Aguilar's right leg on a play at first base. It appeared intentional. Aguilar and Machado exchanged words. Benches and bullpens cleared, but nobody threw punches and nobody got hurt.
Aguilar and Machado later appeared to patch things up.
Still, Brewers right fielder Christian Yelich afterward called it a "dirty play by a dirty player." He then dropped a couple expletives, making his feelings about Machado perfectly clear. Some of Yelich's teammates seem to feel the same way.
Machado essentially has shrugged his shoulders about the entire incident. He never apologized. In fact, he does not think he did anything wrong. If he is going to join Utley, Nyjer Morgan (remember "Alberta" Pujols in the 2011 NLCS?) and Roger Clemens (who chucked a broken bat toward Mike Piazza in the '00 World Series) and others as postseason villains, he seems perfectly fine with it.
"I mean, I'm expecting to go out there and win," Machado said, asked if he expects to be booed in Milwaukee. "That's what I'm expecting."
Do boos bother Machado?
"I'm expecting to go win," Machado repeated. "I want to go win. I've got one more game to win to get where we want to go."
The boos never bothered Utley.
"They were loud," Utley said. "But to be honest with you, I was kind of used to that playing in New York so often, the rivalry that [the Phillies] had with the Mets. So from that aspect, it was similar. You try to tune out as much as you can and focus on whatever you're doing on the field. As a big leaguer, I think what separates the men from the boys are the guys that can tune that out."
Utley expects Machado to be just fine in front of Wisconsin's finest. Who knows? Maybe they motivate him.
"I think anytime you can quiet the crowd, it makes you feel good," Utley said. "I would imagine it will be status quo. He'll go about his business the same way. Obviously, he's had a lot of attention even prior to this, just because of the type of player he is. He's a talented player. I don't think it'll be a distraction."
So what did Utley think about Machado's run-in with Aguilar?
"I didn't talk to him about it, but I mean, I don't care, honestly," Utley said. "Nothing bothers me, really."
Machado seems to feel the same way, too.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.