Philadelphia Adds ‘Chase Utley’ to List of Things it Has to Pretend are Okay


A lot of outsiders don’t realize that Philadelphia isn’t the endless paradise it seems to be.  We are actually a borough of many problems; as deep and difficult to stop as the Broad Street Line.  For instance, how often are we forced to stop and ask ourselves, ‘Are we too sexy?’  And the answer is, quite often.  And that is why so many of us are pulverized by SEPTA buses as we gaze into our own eyes reflected back at us in the windows of parked cars.

There are many ways we have remedied these problems:  Smashing car windows.  Screaming at each other for literally no reason.  Increasing the amount of garbage we hurl out of our apartments.  Tuning into Phillies games.  All of these things are basically Philadelphia traditions, maintained for the purpose of releasing the pressure built up from living our sexy every day lives.

But when these solution de-evolve into problems themselves, we reach a devastating point in our own cultural existence.  How can we go on by answering social problems with other problems?

And this is exactly where Chase Utley’s knee lands us.  Sure, it’s a problem mostly for him directly, I guess.  But the important part is to be sure we never remove the true focus from ourselves.  How will his very sad, lifelong condition affect us, millions of strangers?  It is a conundrum we are forced to turn on ourselves, now that it has become clear that all those messages of calm, “all is well” from the Phillies’ front office were, of course, empty, truthless concoctions prepared by Ruben Amaro and Charlie Manuel as they clinked champagne glasses in a room full of fans’ mounted and stuffed heads.

“Don’t freak out,” Chase told us.  “He’ll be here soon,” Charlie assured us.  “Sure, everything’s fine,” Ruben purred; or maybe that was the fluffy white cat he was stroking menacingly on his lap while he said it.  But that was last week.  This week we get this.

"“Will he ever be 100 percent? I don’t know about that. He might never be that.”–Charlie Manuel"

As far as optimism goes, this is pretty much a nuclear bomb.  Not a whole lot to work with in there.

This means we can’t look at Chase on the lineup card anymore, if he’s ever on one again, and think “Yeah, good.  It’s Chase.”  We have to think, “Okay, it’s Chase.  Hope he gets a hit today.”  Or, “Hmm… Chase is in the lineup.  Hope he’s wearing that bionic knee I dreamt he had last night.”

It also means we are going to hear the words “window” and “open” so many times in the next few weeks, those words will lose all meaning.

But Philadelphians.  We’ve had to choke down this sort of gut-churning revelation in the past.  And let’s look at the bright side:  Chase is still alive.  Chase gave us a lot of what we have from the past five years.  Chase didn’t want to not come here in the first place.  At least the injury isn’t to his handsome face.  He will set foot on a field again, and not just to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

This was the first bit of truly poisonous “Everything is Not Going to be Okay” from the past few spring trainings.  It’s going to sting a bit.  It’s going to make all the other things that happen before and after it seem even worse.  But, just like we did with Chase last season, and any other time something awful has happened, and just look at that rotation.  Smile at the rotation.  Read “The Rotation,” by Salisbury and Zolecki.

Choke back the sad; whistle in the face of gathering darkness; close your laptop as the news cycle shifts away from telling you Chase is gone to speculating who will replace him.

Remind yourself that hey; at least we’re still this sexy.