Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thanks A Lot, Chase

I know I'm supposed be gone fishin' for the next week-plus, but with news that Chase Utley's thumb is seriously fucked up, I had to finally get this off my chest.

I've been holding this in because, quite frankly, I'm not sure that anyone else quite feels this way, but now I'm doubly pissed. When Chase got thrown out trying to stretch what was clearly a single into a double, I lost my god damn mind. I mean completely lost it. Why? Because it was an absolutely stupid play. We all love Chase for his incredible hustle and fundamental play. We love when he takes the extra base. Which is why I was hesitant to write this in the first place. You don't want Chase to stop doing those things. However, in this instance it was completely unnecessary and absolutely killed the team — that's how I felt before anyone even knew he was hurt.

The reason is quite simple — there really wasn't much of a chance that Chase would make it. Watch the play again. He hit a sharp shot to to left center. It was a rocket, getting on the centerfielder Drew Stubbs quickly. Chase could watch Stubbs and the ball running to first and make the turn. If Stubbs turned his back or looked away or misplayed it, he could be off. But Stubbs did none of that. Not only that, but he had the play right in front of him, kept his head up and had Utley in his sights the entire time. He got to it and immediately fired to second because he could watch the play the entire way. It was a single, plain and simple, but Chase went for second anyway. Even though the play was relatively close, it was only because of Brandon Phillips' positioning and Chase's good slide to the inside of the bag. The ball beat him by a mile. He was a dead duck, getting tagged on the helmet. That took a runner off base for Ryan Howard, an RBI machine. And even if Utley got to second, it could have taken the bat out of Howard's hands, as Cueto could have pitched around him with a base to play with and the righthanded Jayson Werth on deck, not that he necessarily would have in a 0-0 game in the 4th. Still, the risk wasn't worth the reward. Not in the least. Especially since the chances of him making it were slim to none. These aren't little league or minor league players patrolling the outfield, they're professionals. They can make strong, accurate throws more often than not.

Truth of the matter is, it was just a stupid play by Utley. To add insult to injury, Howard followed up with a double that Utley surely would have scored on from first to give the Phils a 1-0 lead. Instead, the Phillies got nothing out of it and the Reds went up 2-0 in the bottom half of the inning, a lead they would never relinquish.

Later in the game, before anyone had any idea that Chase was hurt, seeing as he was still in the game and all, I was still bitching about it to my roommates, and especially my dad when we talked on the phone. When you combine the way Stubbs played the ball with the fact that Howard was on deck and there was nobody out and the game was tied, it just wasn't the right thing to do.

Now he's out for an extended period of time to boot, right as the Phillies sit in third place and can't seem to gain any consistency at the plate while the Braves and Mets keep on winning. All because Chase's hard-nosed style got the best of him. Sometimes you have to know when to put the brakes on, know when it's the right time to go and the right time to stay.

It's a painful thing to have to say, because as I stated, we all love Chase for doing precisely what he tried to do on Monday. You don't want him to stop doing those things, to deviate from the style that makes Chase Utley Chase Utley. But you also don't want him or anybody else, especially given the Phillies' terrible luck this year with injuries, to do anything unnecessary that would put them or the team in harm's way. You can't be mad at the guy for hustling, but you can be a little agitated that he made a bad baseball play … and now everyone is suffering for it. Including the Phillies, the fans, my fantasy team and himself. Fuck.

BallHype: hype it up!

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