There is no denying it; Philadelphia still loves Chase Utley, despite the blue uniform. I heard on the news this morning that someone said Utley could “punch my mom in the face” and they would still root for him. After what I witnessed last night, that sounds about right.
The ovation as he stepped to the plate was ridiculously long, as I expected. Utley tipped his capped to everyone in the ballpark, including his old teammates.
Cameron Rupp understandably took the time to anoint his hand with the special blessings of the Utley rump:
Grown men fought back tears (seriously, I saw this) and women tried to snap photos with trembling hands (ok, that was me). Between that and the dreaded netting behind home plate, some shots are a tad blurry, but I got what I came for; lots and lots of Mr. Utley.
Watching Utley on the bases interact with his former teammates warmed the heart. But I have say, after the home run he hit in the 5th inning, I did not see the curtain call coming. I have never seen that in an opposing team’s ballpark. It was magical.
Then another curtain call came after the Grand Slam he hit in the 7th inning! Despite watching their home team get trampled, Phillies fans cheered him on anyway. Their love for Chase simply knows no bounds; I can personally attest to that.
Of course, the game would have been much improved if, for example, Elvis Araujo did not walk in 3 runs (1 hit batter) in the 7th inning. And it would have been nice if the Phillies offense did better than 2 for 7 with runners in scoring position. And maybe the entire bullpen could, just thinking out loud here, not suck.
But since none of those wishes came true, we all settled for the Utley euphoria. And I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Here is the full, Utley-tastic Photo Album from the game.