Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Atonement

The great thing about Chase Utley, and there are many great things, is that he treats every day, every inning, every at bat as the most important of the rest of his career and never seems to dwell on past performances.

A day after his uncharacteristically poor decision to bunt in the first inning of an 8-1 loss to San Francisco helped nip a rally in the bud, Utley moved on and powered the Phils to a 4-2 win over the Mets, driving in the first two runs in regulation play and the winning run on an opposite field homer in extra innings.

Utley has suffered through his share of funks during his short tenure as the premier second baseman in the National League, but if he is scuffling at the plate or in the field he never lets those rough spots affect his overall game. When most people call someone a "throw-back" player they aren't referring to baggy pants or wads of tobacco stuffed in one cheek; they mean to describe a player whose love for the game transcends all other concerns -- the money, the endorsement, the celebrity -- and who sets an example by what he does not what he says. Utley is today's Pete Rose without the unrelenting need to draw attention to himself, a much cleaner version who runs just as hard, slaps a tag down on runners just as sharply, who will barrel into an opposing player with the intent to score not maim, and whose fire within burns just as fiercely.

The Phillies can and have muddled along without a Ryan Howard or Brett Myers for periods of time, but they couldn't do without Utley for more than a day or so, if that.

2 Comments:

Blogger TC said...

Great post. As much as I want the Phils to put together a championship team for me - for all of us fans - I want them to put together a championship team for Chase. The dude plays the game the way it is supposed to be played - I'd like to see him at the pinnacle.

10:47 AM  
Anonymous David said...

"...without the unrelenting need to draw attention to himself."

That's the beauty of Utley. He plays hard, he plays brash, but he doesn't want anyone noticing him. He reminds me of Scott Rolen in this regard, but if anything he's even more humble than Rolen. He handles himself perfectly. And you have to love it even more when he starts mashing balls to left-center of LH pitchers.

4:51 PM  

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