Oh, maybe it’s moronic. Perhaps it’s even arrogant. Still, there is a certain “duh,” out-of-place/out-of-mind naivete to those pushing for Chase Utley to turn tail and head outta town … because it’s the right thing to do. Or that it’s time. Or that he should want to, forgive the pun, chase down another postseason run with a team positioned to make one.
Word to the (not so) wise … um, guys, gals, you created this monster, this prima donna of unspoken sports drama by your incessant worshipping of an athlete who, while a great performer over the course of one five-year stretch, has been nothing more than below-average outside of that.
Let me make this clear: Utley, for what he did from 2005 through 2009, is my favorite Phillies player of all time because during that time frame he was the best Phillies player I’ve ever seen. Tangible, intangible wise, he had it all. Five tools, baseball smarts, you name it, he had it.
But that ended with the final out of the 2009 World Series. He has never been that kind of player since. He hasn’t even been close to that kind of player. Six years, that’s a long time in a performance-based, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately business to give passes on, never mind accolades.
Yet the latter came in spades for Utley, and if they weren’t enough, excuses came fast and furious, with proclamations by others – not the player himself – of the player returning to his better, younger ways … you know, with some rehab here, a new training regime there along with a fan base headed by the friggin’ Phillies front office and Philly sports media, all of it, from the wittiest of columnists to the most curmudgeon of sportstalk show hosts.
Asking Utley to do what “they” think is right now is beyond laughable. The time for Utley to leave, when it actually could have made a difference with keeping the Phillies off the fast track to derailment, was – at the latest – 2011. Not now, not last year, not the year before when Utley blew up all that hero-worshipping BS about him being the ultimate gamer and team player, but when he had value – not to the Phillies or their ticket sales. No, the ONLY time to trade a player is to do so when they hold value with other teams.
Utley’s value with other teams has been plummeting for half a decade, and it hasn’t slowed in its descent.
The fact the majority of those now calling for his curtain call in town let their emotions road-block even the slightest thought of Utley departing from 2011 through 2014 is, well … worthy of a snicker and smile, because they all should have known better.
Now that they’re professing this enlightened righteousness is comical. It’s so silly, so preposterous, and so self-inflicted … that it’s cute.
Maybe next time those now in the know will get it right when it matters. Just don’t count on it.
Meanwhile, it’s pointless to blame Utley. The “monster” within him was created by those trying to take him down or chase him out of town.
- Jack Kerwin | firstname.lastname@example.org