Carroll: Hard-Nosed or Dirty Play?

(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)

The expression “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” is a cynical take on why there seems to be so much evil in the world but it does highlight the issue of perspective. I was thinking of that phrase in the aftermath of the Mets’ 5-2 loss to the Dodgers in Game 2 of the National League Division Series.

The final score was secondary compared to the real story of the game and probably what people will recall about this NLDS years from now; namely how Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley wound up breaking Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada’s leg sliding into second trying to break up a double play. The debate of whether Chase Utley is a dirty player or an old-schooled, hard-nosed type began immediately. Not surprisingly, Mets fans were vociferous Utley detractors while those baseball fans rooting against the Mets were his ardent supporters.

Chase Utley was on first base in the seventh inning with his team behind 2-1when his teammate Howie Kendrick hit a slow infield grounder that might have been a double play. The Dodgers had a runner on third base and if the Mets completed the DP the run wouldn’t have scored. Chase knew that the Dodgers were running out of game and series real estate. When Utley saw Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy awkwardly throw the ball to an out of position Tejada, he went all in to break up the play.

Philadelphia TV sports reporter Leslie Gudel who has covered the Phillies for years told me that Utley would never hurt an opposing player on purpose but added that his hunger to win his intense. It killed him to be on losing Phillies teams in recent years. Former Phils general manager Ruben Amaro traded him to the playoff-bound Dodgers in August as a personal favor.

Even Mets fans who were willing to give Chase the benefit of the doubt were understandably enraged that not only did the umpires not rule in favor of the Mets which would have gotten them out of the inning but they made matters far worse by awarding Utley second base even though he never touched the bag. LA went onto score three more runs in the 7th inning to salt the game away.

Baseball rules and discipline czar Joe Torre suspended Chase Utley for Games 3 and 4 because of what he perceived to be unsportsmanlike conduct. Torre may also have been looking out for Utley’s safety since those games were taking place at Citi Field. Utley immediately appealed.

Torre tried his best to absolve the umpires of blame for their incompetence. He made it clear however that he expects middle infielders to be given the same protection from kamikaze slides that catchers now enjoy. That may be cold comfort for Mets fans.

I had to chuckle about how the executives at the Los Angeles Metro were talking trash to their MTA counterparts about improving the cleanliness of the #7 train in light of the Dodgers’ playoff appearance in Queens.

Kudos to Los Angeles for finally creating a subway system in an attempt to alleviate that city’s horrendous traffic problems. The Long Island Expressway at rush hour is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway compared to LA’s I-5, 10, or 405 at any hour. It should be noted however that there is not a train stop at Dodger Stadium the way there is one just outside Citi Field.

I have ridden on LA’s red and blue subway lines and they are terrific. LA County officials are working hard to expand mass transit throughout more parts of Southern California. Keep up the good work, guys, but don’t make fun of our subway system until you get to New York’s level of mass transit infrastructure.

Speaking of Los Angeles, Knicks head coach Derek Fisher got in some trouble there when he was confronted by a former Lakers teammate, Matt Barnes, about dating his ex-wife. That story, not only made the sports pages, but it was fodder for both “TMZ” and “Saturday Night Live,”

which mentioned it on last week’s “Weekend Update.” I have a feeling that Knicks owner James L. Dolan is not happy about that kind of derisive publicity.

The biggest winner of the baseball’s post-season has been TBS which has the rights to the National League Division Series and was blessed to have two marquee match-ups, the Dodgers versus the Mets as well as the Cubs against Cardinals. Turner Sports executives are of course ecstatic over the high ratings.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi told the media that he would not mind having nearly all of his players back for next season. He did concede that he was frustrated that one of his faster players, outfielder Brett Gardner, basically stopped trying to steal bases after the All-Star Game.

You can’t blame the New York Islanders if they feel slighted. Last Friday was their first regular season game at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center after 42 years at the Nassau Coliseum. That should have been a big deal except that it was completely overshadowed by the fact that the Mets were playing their first playoff game in nine years that night. Newsday did report the Isles’ Brooklyn debut (they lost to the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in overtime) on the backpage but that’s only because they put their paper to bed around 10 PM each night which was about the time the Mets got underway at Dodger Stadium.

If that weren’t bad enough, WFAN’s midday team of Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts poked fun at the fact that the Islanders had a lighting ceremony the day before at the Empire State Building. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but the Islanders’ blue and orange is the same color scheme used by a certain Queens baseball team. Therefore most people understandably thought that the Empire State Building was paying tribute to the Mets and not the Islanders.

One concession that the Islanders have made to moving to our neighboring borough to the west is that they have finally added a New York-based radio station, WNYE 91.5 FM, which is best known for its programming for New York City public schools.

You can make an argument that October is the most exciting time for events in our city.

New York Comic-Con, which now otudraws its more famous San Diego namesake, just concluded another successful four-day run over Columbus Day weekend at the Javits Center.

The annual New York City Wine & Food Festival begins on Thursday. Both the Yankees and the Jets will be competing with sports-food themes at noon on Saturday. A Yankees brunch will take place at NYY Steak in midtown while Jets legend Joe Namath hosts the annual Ultimate Tailgate Party at Pier 92.

Also getting underway this week is the annual celebration of up and coming performers, the CMJ Festival.

New York City has become every bit as important to television production as Los Angeles. Some of the biggest names in the industry will be at Paley Fest, which runs through October 19 at the Paley Center for Media on Fifth Avenue and 52nd Street. As soon as that wraps up, the annual New York Television Festival, which celebrates current shows filmed in our town, as well as those making pilots with the hope of them being picked up by networks, takes place and will go through October 24.

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