As we mentioned earlier, Chase Utley is doing his part to make MLB history by being a catalyst for change in regards to the takeout slide. The contested act of a runner throwing their body into a middle infielder as he attempts to make a play is resoundingly decried by baseball's peacekeepers, and at this point is only defended by the mutterings of those who have attended the oldest of schools.
Many defenders and advocates were apparently on the last few Phillies squads. As the takeout slide is discussed ad nauseum, thanks to a combination of it being a newsworthy topic and the many remaining hours to kill before players start showing up to camp, we have seen more and more evidence that the Phillies of the recent past were all about the move.
Obviously, there is Chase Utley at the center of it all. Let's look at that.
Five years previous, when Utley was a Phillie and the world made sense, he came in hard at second base on a man who was also a Mets shortstop, and also Ruben Tejada. The Mets were ticked. Charlie Manuel did little more than shrug.
"They can react whichever way they want to," Manuel said. "If a guy stays right around the bag there, you're supposed to take him down or get in his way. That's how I was taught to play."
Back in 2015, in response to Utley's slide, one Charlie Manuel predecessor was bold enough to stand up in front of a screaming, outraged internet. That predecessor was Larry Bowa, who saw his name bumped into a few headlines during the playoffs given his unsurprising support of anarchy on the base paths.
"Chase is not a dirty player. It might have been a late slide, but if anything, [Tejada] should have known it wasn't a double-play ball... Once you turn your back on the runner, get the out [at second] and get out of the way."
And, most recently, Shane Victorino - who was one of the first to be in Utley's corner ("corner" of support, not the part of Citi Field named after Utley) right after the Tejada slide - stepped forward and served as the "pro-takeout slide" guy for a Buster Olney column that wasn't about baseball teams tanking for the first time in what feels like weeks.
"I didn't save Shane Victorino's note, but the gist of what he wrote, as I recall, is that the effort to break up a double play was at the heart of the sport, a baserunner going all-out into second base and sacrificing his body in the effort to make a difference in that particular game. Removing that play, he wrote in so many words, would be to cut into the soul of the sport."
According to Olney, the MLBPA got "a lot of feedback" akin to Victorino's sentiments on the subject, so he's not the last man standing. Or sliding, I guess. But he is the one whose thoughts - according to the piece of paper Olney apparently threw in the trash not long after reading - were strong enough for Olney to use in making the point.
But, since we clearly have nothing else going on, let's go on. Jayson Werth was takeout sliding right through the 2010 playoffs.
Jayson Werth takeout slide at second base breaks up double play. Shows off long wingspan there, too. #Phillies #RedSox— Scott Lauber (@ScottLauber) October 17, 2010
And if their own players takeout sliding wasn't enough, the past's glorious Phillies seasons benefited from opposing players performing the act themselves, and getting called out by the umpires. For instance, in one clutch game on August 30, 2007, as every win and every Mets loss inched the Phillies closer to an unthinkable playoff berth, Marlon Anderson of New York was called out trying to scramble Tadahito Iguchi's efforts to get the ball to first base in the ninth inning with the tying run chugging home.
If not for the very clear breaking of the rules by Anderson, the Phillies' 3-2 win would not have happened, preventing them from dispatching the Mets for the third game in a row. And it is easy to see that Anderson's slide was illegal, as it was executed by a player wearing a Mets uniform.
As baseball adjusts the more violent aspects of the game through a series of efforts that will satisfy and infuriate everyone, teams like those Phillies of the past won't exist anymore. Well, they will, they just will have to aim for bases when they slide. Eventually, everyone will forget that baseball was ever played another way.