Baseball fans around the world were treated to one of the most exciting World Series in recent memory. The Astros and Dodgers went a full seven games with Houston emerging victorious. For us Phillies fans, we got to see a familiar face play in second baseman Chase Utley. Utley has played in Los Angeles since being traded in 2015 and has now played out his one year contact that he signed prior to the season. As the final out of the series was recorded, I couldn’t help but wonder, is this the last time we will see Chase Utley play? Join me on a trip down memory lane as I look back at some of the most memorable moments Chase had in Philadelphia, as well as some moments from his time in Los Angeles.
Lets start with his moments in Philadelphia, there were many to choose from so I narrowed it down to what stuck out the most to me.
- First MLB Hit – Utley made his MLB debut in 2003 and he came into the league with a bang. He hit this home run to kick start what would be a prolific career in the show. It wouldn’t be the last time we heard the legendary Harry Kalas break out his infamous “Long drive, could it be?!” line with Utley at the plate. Chase has that smooth quick swing that delivered us many extra base hits and homers throughout the years.
- The Nickname – Chase Utley will be forever defined by his style of play. In a time where the league is transitioning into a more new school feel, Utley is one of the few guys left that brings the old school hard nosed attitude to the diamond every day. He plays with the grittiness to turn base hits into extra base hits and has the baseball IQ to make plays on the base paths and defensively you didn’t think were possible. Here is another classic Chase moment, scoring from second on a ground out, that earned him his nickname “The Man”, coined by Harry Kalas.
- World Series Magic – Utley was at his best when the pressure was on. He was a part of the core players that were essential to the championship in 2008 and the playoff success that followed. I remember being nervous for the first game in Tampa Bay in 2008. As a young teenager I had never experienced the Phillies have that much success, and the stress that comes along with it. Then Chase hit this home run, and suddenly that seemed to melt away. Having a guy that is that cool and collected in a huge moment is vital to any team competing for a championship. Utley seemed to have an inclination for game one’s. Here he is smoking two homers off of Yankees ace C.C. Sabathia in 2009. The guy simply does not get rattled and it doesn’t stop with just the bat. I think we all remember this throw home that saved the go ahead run from scoring and gave the Phillies the momentum they needed to take game 5 and win the series in 2008. Utley could do it all, and Philly fans will be forever grateful for the effort and passion he displayed during his time here.
When Utley was traded in 2015 it signaled an end of an era and new beginning for the Phillies. Almost the entire core of the championship team was gone, a new young faces sprinkled the field wearing red pinstripes. Chase would go on to a have success in Los Angeles and made some memorable moments there as well.
- Chase Utley Slide Rule – Utley has been no stranger to controversial moments in his career. He was public enemy number one to Mets fans after this slide that left Ruben Tejada with a broken leg. Utley’s style of play required a rule change in MLB that now prevents the baserunner from interfering with the fielder in a double play situation. After this controversy the fans in New York tried to make it as difficult an environment as they could for Chase and even chanted “we want Utley!” as you can see in this video. In classic Utley response, he went deep twice, including a grand slam. Utley pretty much dominated the Mets his entire career, and it was awesome.
- 2017 World Series Game Six — Utley was not the same player he has been in the 2017 World Series, but he still left his mark in a distinct way. After getting hit by a pitch and finding a way on base late in the game, he would eventually score the go ahead run that would force a game 7 in the series. By completing this feat, Utley became the oldest player in 60 years to score a go ahead run in an elimination game in the World Series.
- When he came home — My favorite moment, perhaps selfishly, of Chase Utley as a Dodger, was when he made his return to Philadelphia. While some people in the national sports media may not fully understand or appreciate the passion of Philadelphia fans, no one can deny what a great moment the fans provided when Utley returned to the city for the first time as a Dodger. It was the loudest Citizens Bank Park got in 2016 as Utley acknowledged the fans and took in the rousing ovation. I get chills just watching the video, and I’m sure I am not alone in that. Oh, by the way, Chase hit a grand slam in his return, and got a curtain call.
If Utley decides that it is time to call it a career, man what a career it has been. He was an all star six times and a four time silver slugger. He was the most feared second baseman at the plate for years and has remained at the top defensively. He was a key piece in bringing Philadelphia a championship in 2008 and was a leader on a young Dodgers team this season that was on the cusp of winning the World Series. If he decides to get back in the game as a coach down the line, I hope he will consider a return to Philadelphia. He exemplifies how this city wants our teams to play, and new manager Gabe Kapler even said that he hopes the guys play with the kind of mentality that Chase played with.
Thanks Chase for the memories in Philadelphia, we were lucky to have you as long as we did.
Image : Pheisty Fans (via Flickr)