Being from Hollywood and all, it is only natural that the Dodgers have a sharp appreciation for scene, setting and drama. So it really was no surprise that they actually relished the charged atmosphere they encountered in New York for what became a production of The Good, the Bad and the Utley.
There was plenty of heat directed at them Monday night at Citi Field, mostly because of the furor among Mets fans for the way Chase Utley took out Ruben Tejada, breaking the Mets shortstop's leg in Game 2 of the National League Division Series on Saturday night. They were fine with it, even the Dodgers who were in the bullpen, closest to the verbiage.
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"It can get rough out there, man, but it's part of it. It's part of the fun," relief pitcher J.P. Howell said, reflecting on Game 3 before Game 4 Tuesday night. "They always represent themselves with class out there, believe it or not. It's actually pretty clean."
The noise Monday night was perhaps as loud as it ever has been at Citi Field, with chants directed at Utley, who did not play, and thunderous booing for the veteran infielder who also had made a questionable slide at Tejada in 2010.
"It was a good environment, it really was," said manager Don Mattingly, who experienced high volume at Yankee Stadium, particularly late in his playing career. "All things considered, I thought it was a really good environment to play in. It's what you would think about for the playoffs."
Brett Anderson, the Game 3 losing pitcher who had drawn a figurative target on his back with pointed tweets defending Utley on Sunday, said: "Tip your cap to the crowd. It was a good atmosphere. They obviously weren't a big fan of me and Chase and what have you. But that's why you play baseball. You want to play in front of crowds like this."
When the Mets came back from a 3-0 deficit to take a 4-3 lead, the sound was so great that the press box shook -- as had the one at Shea Stadium during dramatic moments. The sound reverberated during the Mets' 13-7 victory, and the anti-Utley chants periodically were loud. Still, none of it was as edgy as the reception that John Rocker earned in 2000 with comments about New York City.
Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal, who had a big hit against Matt Harvey on Monday night, said: "I love playing in this atmosphere. I love people screaming at me. That's one of the things I liked about playing in L.A. when I was with San Diego. Every time you went into L.A. or San Francisco, you were going to have a packed house, people screaming at you. That's one of the things I like about this game."
Normally, the players impress the fans. But this week, it has worked in reverse. "It was amazing, starting with the introductions," Howell said. "It was phenomenal. You can see the support. You know, it was like a freight train. And at the point when it was somewhat of a blowout, if you want to call it that, they were still roaring."