I realize that when baseball players I like stop playing for the Phillies they sometimes go to other homes and play more baseball. I understand this.
I am, after all, a grown-up. I have a house, a car, multiple children, a wife and a job. This is not to brag, but to prove I am fully grown with the maturity of an adult human person.
I fully embrace the knowledge that baseball players I love have loved others before and will probably love others again in the future. We’ve had to say goodbye to the 2007-2011 crew slowly but surely over these last three years, so I get it.
Chase Utley was traded by the Phils to the Los Angeles Dodgers in September of 2015. He re-signed with L.A. before the 2016 season. This was all OK for three reasons.
- No one around here hates the Dodgers or anything.
- Los Angeles is so very far away, it feels like he just went off to summer camp or something.
- The City of Angels is Utley’s hometown, and it’s always nice to imagine your dying pet going to the great big animal hospital in the sky.
I felt good for him when he left. It felt like a nice fit. And when he came back, we were all happy to see him. We even celebrated when he kicked our butts with two home runs in his return to Philadelphia.
Two curtain calls for a visiting player, and it was the right thing to do. But you’ll have to excuse me if I’m not mentally prepared for this nightmare scenario.
Utley on the Dodgers is just fine. Utley on the Rays is fine. Utley even on a division rival like the Marlins is fine, because who really cares about the Marlins?
But the Braves? The Atlanta Braves?
No, I’m sorry, I just can’t abide this.
I don’t know what it is about the Braves that makes this an unacceptable outcome, but it just is. It is a completely unacceptable outcome.
Look, Utley isn’t a star anymore, I get that. He piled up 565 PAs for the Dodgers last season and, after a fast start, regressed to finish with a slash of .252/.319/.396, with 14 HRs, 79 runs, 52 RBIs and an fWAR of 2.0. That’s not a bad season for a 37-year-old, but a superstar, he no longer is.
This is not a baseball argument. This is an emotional plea to the baseball gods from me.
After playing parts of 13 seasons in Philadelphia, it seems inconceivable that he would play for one of the team’s bitter rivals. And don’t get me wrong, going to the Mets or Nationals would be equally egregious.
These are three teams that Phillies fans despise (four if you count the St. Louis Cardinals... five if you include the Giants... no one likes the Yankees or Red Sox... OK so maybe it’s more than three), so it would be a bummer if one of the most popular players in franchise history suited up in their laundry. Days of openly rooting for Utley would be over. The feel-good returns to Philadelphia would be done.
Look, if Chase Utley wants to play baseball in 2017, and the Atlanta Braves are the only game in town, I understand why he’d take the gig. It’s a job, and the Braves are one of only 30 employers that can give him the kind of work he’s looking for.
I’m just not mentally prepared to see Chase Utley in an Atlanta Braves uniform.
So, please. Somebody. Do something to make sure this can never, ever, in our lifetimes, happen.