Last night, Chase Utley had a couple at-bats against the New York Mets at Citi Field. It was considered such a historic baseball event that MLB.com called in only their strongest headline authors.
Yes, it's true; things got very, very Utley in Flushing. It may have been the Utleyest game that's ever happened there, and that's saying something, given how games there just seem to get Utleyer and Utleyer every time he visits.
The Mets are still displeased that Utley purposefully slid into Ruben Tejada in last year's playoffs and broke his leg. Knowing this, everyone, including Utley, expected revenge to be exacted in some capacity, which Noah Syndergaard did in the sixth inning by throwing a pitch behind him.
"I thought he was holding the bat with his butt," Syndergaard tried to explain later, or something.
Anyways, the ump immediately ejected Syndergaard without even a warning, incensing Terry Collins and leaving Joe Buck absolutely flummoxed. With fans screaming for his blood, Utley wrapped up a gift and sent it over the right center field wall for them to enjoy. They did not enjoy it.
Coming up in his next at-bat with the bases packed, Utley unloaded on a Hansel Robles offering that pretty much had Citi Field shuttering for good by the end of the seventh inning stretch.
We don't see as much of Chase anymore, since he moved across the country and continued to not answer our texts. But this was a nice reminder, as the Phillies dropped their sixth loss in eight games on Saturday, that Chase Utley wasn't defined by his Phillies uniform. No, his purpose on earth is far greater than deking runners and winning trophies; he is here to bring down the foundations of the Mets organization, regardless of the colors on his back.
We don't have to cite his career numbers at Citi Field. I mean, we will, because it's fun, but we don't have to: .296 BA, .940 OPS, 13 HR, 12 2B, and 2 3B in 206 AB. Part of the stadium is named after him. How does that happen with somebody from a team who doesn't play there?
We could sum it up in another moment from last season, when Mets fans were rooting for their hero Matt Harvey to strike Utley out, and Utley did what he always does when Mets fans yell at him. There has never been a player so deeply, personally fueled by the inflamed hatred humming in the stadium around him, as proven in the moment, eight years ago, when Utley began his horrible crusade.
Mets fans thought they were booing an elite player from a rival team (and the top NL all-star vote-getter), but what they were actually doing was starting a war. A war only one side could fight.
And he has never stopped fighting. Not when his knees gave out, not when the team stopped winning, not after he was traded to the Dodgers. In fact, that was the point when he seemed to double down on his mission. At 37 years old, he's hitting .296/.386/.453 and worked himself into the lead-off spot in the L.A. lineup. Several years from now, when Utley is converting Citi Field into an ASPCA shelter, he'll somehow be even more effective, probably with the help of some cool cybernetic appendage, assuming science moves at the rapid pace that I demand it does.
This weekend was supposed to be about Julio Urias, his first major league start, the fact that he was 19, and the top prospecthood of his career thus far. The Dodgers and their fans were primed to see what the kid could do against the Mets. What he could do was give up five hits and three runs in less than three innings.
"Well what the hell do we need this guy for?" thought the Dodgers, with Utley on the roster.