Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times has a profile on Chase Utley. Utley is in the twilight of his career, but his intensity is still something to behold. He’s an early riser, a hard worker and, even if his elite skills have atrophied, he still maintains the drive and mindset that made him a superstar.
The dirty secret of a lot of superstars, though? They’re, um, kind of unpleasant people. Go read some stories about Michael Jordan and Bob Gibson and stuff if you doubt that. A lot of superstars can be friendly and outgoing and gregarious people while beating you senseless, but some can’t. Some are just wired differently and need to have their game faces on, constantly. Utley is one of those people:
Utley forgoes fraternization with opponents. He exhibits aggression without shame or apology. He operates with more than a hint of menace.
“He plays emotionless,” catcher A.J. Ellis said. “Cold and calculating. I think he knows he has that persona. He embraces that. That’s why he’s respected, but not liked, by a lot of teams.”
Those qualities led to a combustion last October, when Utley fractured the leg of Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada in the National League division series. He appealed a two-game suspension, and a decision is still up in the air.
We call it a game, but it’s a business. And just like in real life, some players go about their business differently than others. Ultimately the only thing that matters is the bottom line. If nothing else, it’s fascinating to see the different approaches different players take to deliver to that bottom line.