Ok, so I knew it was going to happen, but that does not make it suck any less. My favorite player of all time, Chase Utley, is now a Los Angeles Dodger. That is painful to write. On the plus side, he is now reunited with double-play partner, Jimmy Rollins. I guess this means I now have to cheer for the Dodgers, unless of course, they are playing the Phillies.
I purposely went to bed right after the Blue Jays game last night so I did not have to hear the “official” word on the trade before attempting to sleep. But when I saw Utley tip his cap to the fans right after the game ended, my heart sank. He knew he was leaving. Of course, I am happy he will get to play for a contender and be close to home, so that is the bright spot.
I am not sure I am able to sum up what Chase Utley has meant to me and this team for the last 13 years. I remember the first time I saw him play back in 2003, I said to a friend, that guy is going to be a star. An argument then ensued. He, of course, thought I was biased by Utley’s good looks. And he thought Utley would not amount to anything as his defense was weak. But my retort was, “Look at his eyes when he plays. This guy has a passion for the game I have not seen in a long time.” That fire is what I believed would propel Utley to greatness, and I was not wrong. This guy was all about playing hard and I knew, with that kind of work ethic, he would get better. A lot better…
And that is what I love about Chase Utley. Sure, the looks don’t hurt. But as a person who loves baseball, that same passion is what I look for in players. I want to watch guys who give it everything they have and make no excuses. This is the same reason I never really loved Cole Hamels (sorry folks); sure, I liked him as a pitcher. Who wouldn’t? But early in his career, he was Mr. Excuses…a prima donna. He was sometimes very rude to fans, myself included. And I will stress “sometimes,” because I know a lot of you had good experiences with him. Overall, his attitude got better in time. But I had a hard time getting past that behavior.
My point is that Utley is the example that all other players should follow. Losing a guy like that is going to be very hard on this team; but luckily, some of his awesomeness should have rubbed off on the younger guys by now.
So next month, I will actually be in Southern California for a bit. Looks like I am now going to have go to a Dodgers game to see my two guys, Utley and Rollins, together again. Anyone been to that stadium and have any advice? Please leave me some comments below. I will leave you with a few final images, including my absolute favorite from the 2008 All-Star Home Run Derby; it is Dan Uggla grabbing himself some Utley…ah, memories! MISS YOU ALREADY, CHASE!!!