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In Chase Utley's return, Phillies fans were the real winners
by Scott Butler 8/17/16

Ryan Howard and Chase Utley

Last night was a special night, but for reasons you wouldn't have necessarily expected at this time yesterday.

Chase Utley's return to Philadelphia as a visiting player offered a predictable storyline:

Chase would approach the plate just as he always had with the familiar tones of Led Zeplin's Kazmir filling Citizens Bank Park.

Fans would cheer.

Chase would tip his cap.

Chase would take his practice swings.

And then Chase would attempt to destroy us.

The story started just as we thought it would and just as it had for Jimmy Rollins in his first appearance as a former Phillie. Utley's ovation lasted about a minute and a half, Velasquez delivered strike one, and the game was underway.

Then, in Chase's third at-bat in the fifth inning, he hit a home run to give the Dodgers a 3-1 lead. As Utley sprinted around the bases, fans cheered the opposing villain and demanded a curtain call.

Apparently not this time.

In his fifth at-bat two innings later, Utley smacked a grand slam to right field. Again Utley raced from home to home and again the fans cheered and demanded a curtain call.

These obnoxious fans from Philadelphia who are known to throw snowballs, batteries, and whatever they can get their hands on and who boo portly, elderly men and recently injured cowboys, cheered? An opponent? After not one, but two blasts against the home team?

Yes, that is exactly what 20,000+ of these sleazy drunkards did.

Of course, many of you out there did not approve. And that's fine. Known as a rough and tough fan base with a supposedly higher expectation of excellence than other lesser cities, Philadelphians should have higher standards.

It's fair to say Pete Mackanin was of that mind set.

"I understand it," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "I get it. But I prefer not to talk about it."

I would normally be inclined to agree with that sentiment and in a way I am impressed at fans who hold true to their values, even when it comes to the legendary Chase Utley.

But I for one was glad to hear the cheers.

One thing that I can say with a high degree of certainty is that Phillies fans appreciate gritty players who work hard. It's why players like Bobby Abreu are never fully appreciated and players like Utley and Bowa are held in a higher esteem.

That is what it means to be a blue collar town. As silly as it might seem to outsiders (and some insiders), that was Philadelphia's way to demonstrate those values.

Utley never endeared himself to fans on a personal level the way someone like Jimmy Rollins did, but that is not why Utley received such a warm response.

Utley was ushered to the top step of the visiting dugout multiple times for running out every single ground ball, diving for every bouncer, crashing into every catcher blocking his path, and incessantly working out his creaky knees.

That is why Philadelphia stood three separate times for Chase Utley and I think it sends a pretty nice message.

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