This Mets-Dodgers series had its share of narratives before it ever began. Will Clayton Kershaw finally produce in the postseason? How many games, or innings, will Matt Harvey throw? Can the Dodgers finally get over the hump? Will the Mets be able to overcome the 1-2 punch of Kershaw and Zack Greinke? All of those are fine headlines to fill up a few pages in your daily newspaper. However, I didn’t find any of these all that appealing. But, thanks to Chase Utley, that all changed on Saturday night.
As you are well aware of by now, I hope, Utley took out Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada will a “slide” while attempting to turn an inning ending double play that broke his fibula. The initial ruling on the field had Utley called out at second and the score even at 2-2 with a runner on first and two outs. Upon further review, the call was reversed and Utley was awarded second base as the Dodgers rallied to tack on three more runs in route to a 5-2 victory.
Arguments can be made from now until eternity whether Utley made a clean “hard-nosed” play or if he went above and beyond that threshold. I won’t waste my time with furthering that debate. It’s just not worth it. No matter what your opinion may be the fact remains, right or wrong, the call was made and the series is now tied at 1-1. That’s all that really matters.
I mentioned earlier I had no real feel for this series going into it. The Dodgers don’t exactly bring much emotion out of me. Maybe it still stings an older generation of fans that were spurned by their Brooklyn departure in the 1950’s, but I’m not a part of that. I grew up with the Mets and I’ve only known the Mets. There isn’t a single everyday player who I have any animosity towards on L.A., and that okay. It’s not like you’re going to have a rivalry with every team you play. But it does enhance the viewing experience. The games seem to mean more when you bring that aspect into play.
After watching Utley take out Tejada on Saturday night, as Mets fans have grown accustomed to seeing similar plays by him over the years, I realized the Phillies still stand in the Mets way. Sure, the Phillies haven’t been relevant for a few seasons now. Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels are no longer a part of a core that broke the hearts of Mets fans for years. In 2007 and 2008, they helped guide the Phillies past the Mets to NL East Championships. From 2009-2014, the Mets were never even in the mix. Never getting a shot at redemption. The rivalry, although it continued to play out, if only in our minds, was never truly meaningful after 2008.
This year the Mets returned back to glory as they took back the NL East. The Phillies, well, they finished with the worst record in baseball. Howard has since become a shell of himself, spending most of his time on the DL in recent seasons. Hamels was traded to the Texas Rangers earlier this year, while Utley and Rollins were acquired by L.A. to add depth to a team with World Series expectations.
With what Utley started on Saturday night, the fire that once existed between the Mets and Phillies was reignited. All those years of emotions, mostly filled with anger, that Utley and Rollins have caused me came back to life. It felt like deja vu as one of them was in the middle of a potentially season changing moment, with the Mets coming out on the wrong end of it. The chance to return the favor against those Philadelphia teams might have already passed, but the Mets still have the opportunity to square things away with public enemy No. 1 and 2, Utley and Rollins. This series, which could be the Mets final shot at payback as retirement looms for both, has the narrative it so desperately needed: Revenge.