There are certain things only certain athletes can do.
The Phillies have one of those athletes and his name is Chase Utley.
On July 26, Utley rounded the bases much like he has 188 times in his career. But this time was different. The 32-year-old second baseman needed a little extra hustle to make it home safely, a testament on his hustle and abilities as a ball player.
With the Phillies leading 5-1 in the bottom of the 6th inning against the San Francisco Giants, Utley took a Barry Zito pitch to straight away center. The ball ricocheted off the top of the side wall near left-center and got away from Giants center fielder Andres Torres.
Utley flew around the bases ins 15.2 seconds before diving head first into home underneath catcher Eli Whiteside’s tag for his second career inside the parker [Video if the one at the bottom doesn’t work].
It’s not the first time Utley has made a play like this.
Back in 2009, Utley pulled off the same feat against the Reds on July 9. Utley hit a shot to the same spot in the park and the ball rolled away from Reds’ center fielder Willy Tavares as Utley crossed home standing.
The inside the parkers are only examples of the style of play Chase Utley brings to the Phillies and that sets him ahead of other players in the game, including second basemen.
There isn’t a player in Phillies history that I can name, outside of Scott Rolen, that did the little things like that, and did it well. Utley’s hustle and all-out play got him named the second meanest player in baseball.
Sure, breaking up double plays, bowling into the catcher and other players blocking his path to the base or plate with the ball, his own blocking of the bag, leaning in to take a pitch off his shoulder and hard-ass attitude make him a player many despise playing against but it’s that attitude that makes him one of the most coveted in baseball.
Chase Utley is MLB’s version of the grinder. His inside the parker back in July was just another indication of his hustle and determination to do the little things right.