When we started the season without Chase Utley or Ryan Howard, we were told they would eventually be back, and not only would they be fine, but they would be the equivalent of two big midseason acquisitions, thus solving the problem of who Ruben Amaro would acquire to shock everybody, as his life force is fueled by jarring human emotions. I believe he hides around corners of his house, startling his daughters and consuming their fear in order to have enough energy to get to lunch.
Much of that paragraph was untrue, but I am not going to type it again. The part about half of our infield doubling as midseason acquisitions, though, is true, assuming they can perform at even a basic human level.
Tonight, after months of being told Chase Utley would return one day, Chase Utley is returning one day. His thunderous bat echoed all the way from Lehigh Valley as the Phillies themselves scampered out of CBP with another uncharacteristically stoic win against the Pirates. Regardless of what happens, the positive energy feeding out of Philly, the news, and fucking Chooch has been enough to put smiles on faces where merely a week before there were frowns, whiskey, and old gummy bears that “…were supposed to be for the kids!”
Whatever. I didn’t realize I was living in communist Russia.
Despite that, we are stilling seeing red. Not just Phillies red, but blood red. What? No, not from one of our players being ritually slaughtered on the field somehow. Stop… stop thinking that.
Blood red is, possibly, the only color Chase Utley can see, and even though we’ve spent the past weeks talking about how this team is too awful to be fixed by one or even two All-Stars’ returns, it seems as though we are all ready to claim that Chase and his locked-in, pro-bloodletting style of baseball is going to save not only our city, but the entire world.
Last year when Chase came back he went 0-for-5, but you know who did get a hit? Everyone else in the Phillies lineup. This scenario was eerily re-lived last night, when Chase’s presence in the Lehigh Valley IronPigs lineup exploded for a 10-3 win over some other minor league team that picked the wrong night to stroll into Allentown. He even fielded a ball all Chase Utley-like, sparking dignified reactions from fans all over the internet.
Elsewhere, Ryan Howard will be tested, but this time, not by Baseba’al tearing one of his muscles in half. He will be seen by team doctors, who will use science to deduce whether or not he is ready to move to the next phase of more science.
If his progress is deemed acceptable, he gets to go to New Jersey. Baseball sure is crazy!
He’ll report to Class-A Lakewood, where he will begin rehabbing in games that might actually allow to run or even field, while the FirstEnergy Park gate take spikes the front office in half. It could still be 30 days until his appearance at the Major League level, but this news offers us something of which we have been starved for so long: Progress. And that is enough for this underperforming team to have us cast off the shackles of reality and adopt a sense of childlike wonder.