Glad it’s coming to an end.
No issues with occurring. No problem with fans getting their “forever hero” fix.
But with the Chase Utley Return Tour entering its final show tonight at Citizens Bank Park, gotta say, little relieved.
You know, kinda like, OK, let’s move on … from “world effin champions” and the fantasy that Philly’s favorite second baseman of all time was anything more than a health-hindered average to below-average player the last six seasons of his career here.
No offense to Chase, but let’s do just that, put a Pete Mackanin on the deal and move on to focus on more, oh, captivating stuff these days. In Major League Baseball to boot …
BIGGER IS BETTER?
With all the hyperbole about the monsters roaming diamonds anymore pawned off as a prophetic, “yes, of course” genius accepted by the vast majority, it is quite enjoyable to see the dominance of normal-sized Mookie Betts (5-9, 180) and pint-sized Jose Altuve (5-6, 165) in the American League. The Boston outfielder and Houston infielder pretty much own every offensive category in the junior circuit, aside from home runs and RBIs … and even with that, entering play Wednesday, Betts ranked seventh in the former with 28 and fourth in the latter with 89, not to mention that Altuve ranked second in slugging percentage anyway and Betts third. Yes, Mike Trout, the beefed-up Mickey Mantle 2.0 who stars in center field for the Angels, is the game’s best player, but he’ll be hard-pressed to outdo either of these two for MVP honors this season.
THREE FOR ONE
To me, the NL’s top individual honor this season will come down to a trio of candidates … with two of them possibly knocking each other off. Indeed, if Anthony Rizzo (.290, 25 homers, 85 RBIs, 71 runs scored) and Kris Bryant (.289, 28, 73, 91) didn’t both play for the Cubs, each would be pushed for MVP, hardcore. Especially with Rizzo being a highlight film over at first base, too, and Bryant being a multi-talented individual who handles infield AND outfield duties with ease. Their combined athletic genius has spearheaded the Cubs’ rise to the top of MLB, and quite possibly opened the door for Washington’s Daniel Murphy (.348, 22, 87, 72) to grab the hardware since he’s pretty much carrying the Nationals toward the postseason solo.
BLAST FROM THE PAST
Utley’s return to Philly certainly put the spotlight back on some great times for Phillies fans, most obviously the World Series teams of 2008 and ’09, with the core “homegrown” group of Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Cole Hamels leading the charge. Hey, Hamels remains a very good pitcher these days, no doubt the best of that aforementioned group still going now. But, really, he’s not having a better season than fellow lefthander and former Phillies farmhand J.A. Happ, who posted a 12-4 mark for the parent club in 2009. A journeyman since, Happ, now with Toronto, currently leads the AL in wins (17) and tops his far more ballyhooed ex-teammate, now in Texas, in several pitching categories: winning percentage (.850 to .750), opponents’ batting average (.230 to .243) and better WHIP (1.14 to 1.30).
Obviously, what Boston’s David Ortiz is pulling off in his last season, at the age of 40, is quite amazing, the big fella hitting as well as he did in his prime. He seems to be almost on a record pace for an old guy … only he’s not. Don’t even have to leave Red Sox annals to see that. Check this out: Ortiz, currently, has a slugging percentage of .619 and an OPS of 1.025. Tremendous stuff. Only Ted Williams, at 41, posted .645 and 1.096 during his final go-round in 1960. Also had a higher batting average and on-base percentage that season than Big Papi does in this one.
OH, YEAH ...
With a quarter of a season left to go, only two games separate the top three teams in the AL East (Toronto, Boston and Baltimore), 1.5 the top two in the NL West (Los Angeles and San Francisco) and 6.5 the top 13 teams in MLB for the four available wild-card spots – and the Phillies ain’t one of them.