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A History of Utley’s Corner

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Only one player has taken up real estate in an opposing team’s stadium. Chase Utley is that player. Citi Field is that stadium.

Philadelphia Phillies v New York Mets Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

DECEMBER 17, 1978: Chase Utley is born.

MARCH 2005: A team of planners tasked with bringing the 2012 Summer Olympics to New York has their plans to construct a sports stadium in Manhattan’s Far West Side scuttled and are forced to come up with a new idea in 72 hours. Desperate, sleep-deprived, and with the furious Selection Committee banging on the door, they produce the original blueprints for Citi Field.

LATER THAT MONTH: New York is eliminated from contention for hosting the 2012 Olympic Games in the second round of voting. A crumpled-up blueprint of what would become Citi Field, a facility previously planned to host the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games, is carried to Fred Wilpon by one of the rat hordes in his employ.

Had New York won its bid to host the Olympics, the Mets would have seen their stadium commandeered and been forced to play their home games at Yankee Stadium, thus saving the New York Mets from becoming a laughingstock for an entire generation of fans.

MARCH 18, 2006: The Mets unveil a scale model of their new facility, Citi Field, to be built in one of Shea Stadium’s finest parking lots. The target date for completion is Opening Day 2009, assuming workers can keep the packs of stray dogs regularly terrorizing the neighborhood at bay.

DECEMBER 1, 2008: Signage and seating are installed and Citi Field is set to make its debut in the spring. Outfield wall dimensions are 408 feet at their deepest point; 335 feet in the left field corner and 330 feet in the right field corner. Inquiries as to why the right field fence is five feet shorter are met with a resounding, “You’re not being paid to ask questions.”

JUNE 9, 2009: In a game in which Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez, and Jimmy Rollins have all homered, Chase Utley goes yard off Mets starter Johan Santana, beginning a career of homering at Citi Field and continuing a career of homering off Johan Santana, something he would do again less than a month later back in Philadelphia.

JUNE 10, 2009: Facing Mets reliever Bobby Parnell in the 11th inning of a game which Utley had helped tie up with a solo shot earlier, Utley crushes the second pitch of Parnell’s appearance into the right field corner. Following this game, Mets brass involuntarily transfers ownership of the right field corner of Citi Field to Utley, and Utley’s Corner is born.

AUGUST 22, 2009: Mets pitcher Pat Misch watches a deep fly ball sail over the right field wall at Citi Field before Utley trots around the bases, having given the Phillies a 2-1 lead faster than you could say, “Who is Pat Misch.”

SEPTEMBER 10, 2010: Utley homers into his corner off Raul Valdes, backing an 8-4 win for Roy Halladay on the same day that the Mets announce Johan Santana will miss the rest of the season due to injury.

“For the 2010 Mets, this was supposed to be a season filled with optimism and meaningful games in September... Unfortunately for the 33,071 in attendance at Citi Field who witnessed the Philadelphia Phillies defeat the Mets 8-4, some things still haven’t changed.”

JULY 4, 2012: Reactivated from the disabled list on June 27 for cartiulage damage in his knees, a hobbled Chase Utley returns to Citi Field, where human giant and Mets starter Chris Young waits for him.

Making it clear the “long-term knee damage” thing was all a ruse, Utley celebrates the birth of America by cutting a 2-0 lead in half in the seventh inning with a line drive home run—you guessed it—down the right field line. Carlos Ruiz follows him with game-tying home run. Chris Young would live off minor league deals for the rest of his career.

From his office overlooking the playing field, Fred Wilpon, rat perched on his shoulder, pounds a fist on his desk and demands that “someone do something” about “that despicable Utley boy.”

JULY 19-20, 2013: On a hot weekend in New York, with the sewage boiling and fountaining out of the manholes, Chase Utley went to town on the Mets once again. The Phillies were following up their first playoff absence in five years with a season of even more disappointing quality, but as is typical, Utley’s performance at Citi Field and the corner that calls his name existed in a vacuum. Starting with an RBI triple in the first inning of a 13-8 win, Utley rips Mets pitcher Josh Edgin open with a two-run shot to right field.

The following day, the terror continues. Facing down personal punching bag Bobby Parnell, Utley keeps a two-out ninth inning rally alive with his second consecutive home run after Michael Young reaches base on an error.

JULY 29, 2014: A new Mets punching bag, Josh Edgin, enters the game to face Utley with the bases loaded and the Mets down 2-0. It becomes a 6-0 game after Utley’s grand slam.

“I left it right down the middle of the plate,” Edgin told reporters of the pitch he tried to put on the outside part of the plate but that became the latest visitor to Utley’s Corner. “That’s what he gets paid for.”

“A very positive evening for us,” manager Terry Collins said of the 6-0 loss at home.

NOVEMBER 18, 2014: The Mets make some calculated adjustments to the outfield walls at Citi Field in an attempt to improve their offense without having to acquire better players. Utley’s Corner is left untouched, presumably because the Mets did not have Utley’s permission to alter it.

APRIL 14, 2015: Mets pitching phenom Matt Harvey strikes out the first two Phillies he faces at Citi Field. With a 1-2 count on Utley, fans cheer Harvey’s name loudly until Utley deposits a home run ball—his tenth career home run at Citi Field—into his titular corner.

LATER THAT GAME: Utley hits his eleventh career home run at Citi Field, endearing himself further to the home crowd.

AUGUST 20, 2015: Mets fans breathe a sigh of relief as Chase Utley is trades out of the NL East to the Dodgers, ending his reign of terror against them, presumably.

MAY 28, 2016: After throwing a 99 mph fastball at Utley in retribution for his infamous leg-breaking slide into Ruben Tejada in the previous year’s NLCS, Mets starter Noah Syndergaard is ejected despite missing his target by about a foot. Manager Terry Collins has a complete meltdown, covering the home plate umpire in spittle and tears, claiming, “Why don’t we get a shot? MLB did nothing to that guy!”

LATER THAT GAME: Rattled by the display, Utley homers to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead, the 12th of his career at Citi Field.

LATER THAT GAME: Unable to get the images of Collins’ red, shrieking face out of his mind, Utley hits a grand slam, the 13th home run of his career at Citi Field.

AUGUST 4, 2017: This season, Josh Smoker is a young pitcher whose seven starts have culminated in a 11.12 ERA. Just one year ago, he was a young pitcher who only gave up ten home runs in 54 games. One of them came against the Dodgers’ Chase Utley in an early August contest and ties Utley with Willie Mays at the No. 9 spot for most career home runs against the New York Metropolitans all-time. Flushing Meadows issues it’s unconditional surrender.

JULY 18, 2018: Chase Utley announces that his career will end at the close of the season, choosing to build a tasteful vacaction cottage on some property he owns in Citi Field.

SOME TIME IN 2085: Utley is placed into a stasis pod, to be awoken in case earth needs him again. Hitting a line drive home run into Citi Field’s right field corner has been criminalized for decades, which is less important now that Citi Field is merely a nature reserve opened by the Wilpons to help cultivate New York’s majestic rat population.