THE END OF AN ERA!
By Jason voorhees Reporting for philly rock radio.
What is even more intriguing or upsetting, depending on how you look at it, is the current state of this franchise and the "supposed" rebuilding project. Do not even get me started about Ruben Amaro Jr. (you all know my opinion)...I could sit here and write a book about this misguided piss poor version of a general manager. Also, of course many people will lay the blame of the team's demise at the feet of Ryan Sandberg...and to that I say bullshit! Sandberg was just an unlucky puppet in this lackluster organization. Time and time again, Phillies ownership has dropped the ball religiously. As I said, Ruben Amaro is a topic for another day.
Today I want to focus on the current state of the team. What the future holds and where this team is moving forward is also a discussion for another day. The main reason for the demise of the Philadelphia Phillies is very simple. The team just got old really quickly. Let's rewind the clock back to 2007. In that season, the Philadelphia Phillies captured the National League East title, after the New York Met's record collapse as the Mets squandered a 7 game lead in the standings with 17 games to play. The Phillies won the division on the very last day. I can remember that game like it was yesterday. The Phillies beat the Washington Nationals on a sunny afternoon as the New York Mets lost to take the division. Phillies estranged pitcher Brett Myers, who had thrown the very first pitch of the 2007 season, was ironically on the mound for the last pitch as the Phillies closer. After a poor beginning to the season as a starter, Brett was moved to the bullpen where he served as the team's closer and actually earned 21 saves. The Phillies would then go 3 and out in the divisional round of the playoffs.
The beginning of 2008 was extremely positive for the Phillies and they never looked back, capturing their second division title in a row, and ultimately winning the 2008 World Series Championship. Of course, this was only the Phillies second title with the first one coming in 1980, 28 years prior. Well, this team actually won the championship due to an extremely good core of homegrown talent. This team had Ryan Howard at first base, who was coming of an MVP season in 2006. This team had Jimmy Rollins at shortstop, the MVP of the 2007 season, and arguably it's best all around player. The team had Pat Burrell in left field, who won the title in his last season as a Philly. The team had ace starting pitcher Cole Hamels, who was the NLCS and World Series MVP in his first full season in the rotation. The Phillies had Carlos Ruiz as the backbone and starting catcher. The Phillies beat the Milwaukee Brewers 3-1 in the Divisional Round. They then finished off the heavily favored Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS before finally beating the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the World Series.
Who can forget that moment...Brad Lidge throwing that slider to strike out A.J. Hinske to end the ball game. Brad Lidge finished that season with a perfect 48 Saves in 48 Chances. But I can sit here today and tell you that I actually remember the last play of the last regular season game that season as well, like it was yesterday. It was a hard ground ball up the middle that Jimmy Rollins dove for flipped to starting second baseman Chase Utley who quickly pivoted and threw to Ryan Howard at first base for the final out. The reason I bring this up is that I left one players name out in the above memories that may be the hardest working most dedicated ball player the Phillies have ever saw. That player is Chase Utley. Chase Utley represents everything that this proud city is built on...blue collar and in your face.
At this moment today, Chase Utley resides on the disabled list. 2015 has been a nightmare for the perennial all star second baseman. Chase along with Howard is the elder statesman on the team. In fact, only 4 players remain from that 2008 World Championship Team. Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz, Cole Hamels, and Chase Utley. Furthermore, with the team rebuilding, there is an even greater chance that all four of these players will be gone before season's end, as the trade deadline nears. And on Tuesday, Phillies GM Amaro may have put the final nail in the coffin for Chase Utley. When he was asked if Utley will be the team's starting second baseman when he returns from the disabled list, Amaro replied..."Not for me he's not." Wow...that is harsh words. And then Amaro went on to say, "Cesar Hernandez is our best second baseman."
It is so unfortunate that things have gotten this bad for the Phillies. It is like a double edged sword here. As a die hard Phillies fan, you would hope that Utley remains on the team and retires here. However; as a Chase Utley fan, one would hope that he could be traded to a contender and have one last shot at a ring. Utley, who has spent his entire career as a Phillie, holds 10-5 rights to block any potential trade the Phillies may arrange. Also, Utley holds a 15 million dollar vesting option if he reaches 500 plate appearances, which is highly unlikely now. Where does this team go. I do know one thing, as hard as it may be for Utley, who we all know is an ultimate competitor, I personally wish he would take the "Mike Schmidt" avenue and retire while he still has dignity. This franchise no loner cares for Utley, nor do they have any sort of sympathy for a player that is ultimately wounded. In fact, they have no problem pouring salt on an open wound.
No matter what happens, we are sadly watching the end of an era. This is an era in Phillies history that I will surely never forget. I am sure that all of you reading this will never forget as well. The decisions that are made in the upcoming months will shape this team for years to come. However; as a Phillies fan I will never forget the prior era of this team. And its mostly because of Chase Utley. Chase embodies everything it means to be a Phillies fan and I want to thank him for all of his handwork and dedication. Thank you for the memories Chase...we will never forget.