Sunday, April 1, 2012

Laminated Hall Pass?

As the Phillies are closing in on the end of Spring Training, there are questions about the Phillies upcoming season and the future of Chase Utley. The questions about the Phillies and most of those about Chase Utley have been asked for the past several weeks, so I’m not going to ask the same questions we’ve already been hearing. The question I have about Utley is: does he get a free pass from Phillies fans? And if so, Why?

I’m sure as Phillies fans we’ve been notoriously tough on athletes in Philadelphia. Everyone from Mike Schmidt to Eric Lindros to Donovan McNabb have been booed by the Philadelphia faithful. Despite making key post season errors Chase Utley seems to get a free pass by the fans. Is it because he plays so hard and was a key contributor to the 2008 World Series Championship, or his famous speech after the parade that has given him a pardon?

I’m not saying that Utley deserves to be booed, or that he deserves to get by with a free pass, but the fact of the matter is, is that Utley has done his fair share to get under the skin of Phillies fans, and yet he always seems to fly under the harshest critic’s radar. Lately, Utley has been a lot like Andy Reid by holding press conferences and not giving any type of information that we, as fans, feel we’re entitled to.

All through Spring Training, the Phillies and Utley were telling us he’d be ready for opening day. It wasn’t until Jimmy Rollins mentioned to Jason Stark of ESPN that he doesn’t see how Utley could play in his condition with the pain he’s going through that that assumption was questioned. Suddenly, Utley went to see a specialist and then we were told he’d be doubtful for April 5. Now, there’s all sorts of secrecy about what’s really happening. One day I’m hearing he has no cartilage in either of his knees, and today I’m hearing one knee is 100%, and the other is only missing some cartilage.

Are the Phillies lying to us? The Phillies really have nothing to gain by lying; however they seem to be trying to keep this whole thing a secret. Last week, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. was on the Mike Missanelli show and when asked about Utley he said “I’ll let Chase answer those questions.” Yesterday when Utley spoke he didn’t give much information other than to say that he won’t be ready and that he’s going to take his time.

Is Chase Utley lying to the Phillies? Or Did Utley mislead the Phillies during the offseason on his condition? Or did the injury really occur after he started fielding at Spring Training? I’m sure if the Phillies knew of Utley’s condition they wouldn’t have traded Wilson Valdez, and be left having to rely on Freddy Galvis at second-base. Amaro even admitted in the same interview with Missanelli that it was a mistake trading Valdez and when asked if he would make that trade again saying “absolutely not” or something to that sort.

Is the Phillies medical staff just complacent? Let’s face it. Ryan Howard’s injury happened because at the end of last year they didn’t treat the tendinitis in his ankle which directly led to his Achilles injury. I know it was the post-season, but having a player who already has limited mobility out there with one bad food he’s not offering much to help the team. He did, however, deliver a key home-run in Game 1.

Back to Utley. Why does it seem like he’s always getting a free pass? Jimmy Rollins has been a vocal leader on and off the field, and has always said what’s on his mind. He notoriously called Phillies fans front runners in 2008 and heard it from the fans. Howard has been booed at times from Phils fans just for his knack of striking out often even though he habitually hits 40 home-runs and has over 100 RBI’s. Utley’s stats have been declining since the beginning of 2009 season, and we’re all well aware of Utley’s post season throwing errors in back to back games in 2009.
Last season, Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Daily News said that Utley gets a free pass because he is white, and Rollins and Howard, both former MVP’s don’t have the same luxury as Utley because they’re black. I’m not saying it’s true, but it’s a very valid point that they’re both former MVP’s and both receive traditional Philadelphia treatment. While it’s a valid point, I truly believe its bullshit because Cole Hamels was the biggest reason for the 2008 Championship, and he received worse than Rollins and Howard less than a year after winning NLCS MVP, and World Series MVP. Maybe we expect more from players we know can perform at that higher level.

Chase Utley has played hard since coming to Philadelphia. He’s made great plays with his glove during the 2008 run, and made stupid errors. He also famously proclaimed “World Fucking Champions” during the Phillies World Series celebration. It’s something that a blue collar city like Philadelphia can respect from a blue collar guy like Utley. Maybe we feel Utley has earned our respect, and instead we let out our frustrations on Rollins and Howard who are less consistent than Utley at times, and sometimes have that “I don’t care attitude.”

Whatever the reason, I just want the Phillies to go back to being the Phillies we expect to win with Utley and Howard filling in the three and four spots respectively in the lineup. With those two at 100% and a stronger bench and still with this pitching staff the Phillies window of opportunity is still open, and I’m not quite ready for it to close yet.



  1. "yet he always seems fly under the harshest critic’s radar?" Who proof read this piece? Me?

    1. coming from a guy who's work reads like it was written by an asian with a knockoff virus infested version of dragon software