The Chase Utley Effect

24 May

OK, so it wasn’t the perfect Hollywood ending.  The returning superstar did not get the game-winning hit in the bottom of the 9th.  He didn’t snare a line drive out of mid-air to save the game.  In fact, he was the only Phillies starter not to get a hit in last night’s game.

But was it sheer coincidence that on the first night Chase Utley is back in the line-up the Phillies scored more runs in a game than they have since April 29?

Was it just dumb luck that the first night Chase Utley is back in the line-up the Phillies manage more hits, 14, than they’ve had since April 9?

And was it simply a craving for a ballpark hotdog that drew the largest regular-season crowd ever to the Bank on the night of Chase Utley’s return?

I think not.  Everything about last night was about Chase Utley.

I call it the Chase Effect.

The anticipation was palpable and the crowd was electric.  The loud and long standing ovation Chase received for his first at-bat was the stuff of goose-bumps.  And that electricity clearly sparked the Phillies offense as they looked like those Phils of old.   You remember them, the ones who could never be counted out of a game.  The ones who never gave up, no matter what the score.  The ones who just kept gutting it out until the final out.  Kind of reminds you of someone, doesn’t it?

I call it the Chase Effect.

Now for the record, Chase would be the first to take absolutely no credit for his teammates’ power surge last night.  In fact,  I’m sure he’ll be in the cage taking extra BP after his o for 5.  But his manager got it right.

Chase comes to our line-up he brings a lot of intangibles.  He’s one of our leaders.  He’s a silent leader but he’s a leader of our team.  He’s not gonna come back and save us but he’s definitely gonna help us.  [Even] just his presence  will help us.”

I call it the Chase Effect.

Chase Utley’s favorite sports movie is  “The Natural.”  You know the one, (if you don’t, you better cue it up on Netflix!,)  Roy Hobbs, the Robert Redford character, comes back to baseball after a lengthy absence due to injury.  Most thought he would never be able to return and don’t think he has anything left.  When he finally gets a chance to play he tells his manager:  “It took me 16 years to get here.  You play me, and I’ll give you the best I got.”

Many years before Utley‘s current knee problems he said of this film, “It’s old school in a lot of ways but I could relate to what [Hobbs] was going through and how much it meant to finally get a  chance to play in the big leagues.  [Especially since] he knows he might only have that one season.”

Those words seem a bit too prophetic now after all that Chase has endured, the injury, the long and painful rehab, even facing the real possibility that he might no longer be able to play the game he loves.  But last night he was back, leading his team onto the field, the familiar #26 on his back.

In the end, it was just one game on one night.

We will need to see much more of this man and this team to see if World Series Dreams will be realized.

But there is one thing we know without a shred of doubt.  I can almost hear Chase saying it to Charlie:

“You play me, and I’ll give you the best I got.”

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4 Responses to “The Chase Utley Effect”

  1. Fern Zeigler May 24, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

    girl, you got talent!!!!!!!!!!!!! to make a non-sports non-enthusiast laugh and get excited by what you write…….you could get anyone into the game!

  2. Lea Dickler May 24, 2011 at 2:21 pm #

    YOU ARE SOOOO GOOD!!!!

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