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Utley, Halladay get thumbs up from W

Soon-to-be former President George W. Bush used to be the managing general partner of the Texas Rangers. This in itself doesn't mean he knows his baseball -- after all, how many championships have the Rangers won? -- but he was asked this week who would be the first position player he'd want if he owned a baseball team again, and his answer wasn't a bad one: Chase Utley.

In the transcript of an interview at, Bush said, "I like Utley from the Philadelphia Phillies. He's a middle infielder, which is always - you know, they say strength up the middle. There's nothing better than having a good person up the middle that can hit."

As for a pitcher, Bush chose Toronto's Roy Halladay, saying Halladay "is a great pitcher. He's a steady guy, he burns up innings."

Utley told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the presidential endorsement was "a great compliment to have," but didn't quite agree with Bush's pitching choice. "I'd go with a younger guy, somebody who is going to be around a little while," Utley said. "Roy Halladay obviously is exceptional and has great years ahead of him, but I'd take a guy who's been pitching two or three years and is going to be pitching another 10 years, somebody like Cole Hamels." Works for me, on a night when Hamels pitched his first career shutout, a 5-0 Phils' win over Atlanta in which he allowed just four hits. If Halladay disagrees, he can take it up with Utley this weekend in person, when the Blue Jays visit Philadelphia in the first round of interleague play. -- Joe Guckin