Chase Utley is a fine player who didn’t have the best NLCS. But More Splash Hits didn’t pick him for this list for his .182 batting average in the NLCS, or that he only had one extra base hit or only one RBI, or the fact that he wasn’t able to knock down a couple of RBI singles by the Giants.
No, what earned his spot onto this list is what he did in Game 6 of the NLCS.
It was the bottom of the third and Jonathan Sanchez could not find the strike zone to save his life. He had already walked Placido Polanco to open the inning. Then he hit Utley square in the back with what would be Sanchez’s final pitch of the night.
The ball bounced high in the air after hitting Utley. As he made his way to first base, Utley was able to pick the ball up on one bounce and rolled it out toward Sanchez.
Then, Sanchez glared at Utley. We can’t be sure what Sanchez then said to Utley. But our best lip-reading leads us to believe Sanchez said “thank you” except that Sanchez has trouble with the “th” sound, replacing it with “f” sound — much like my 6-year-old often does.
Utley then stepped toward Sanchez, asking him to clarify his remarks. Sanchez said “thank you” again.
Misunderstanding Sanchez’s gratitude, Utley waved Sanchez off, and then the dugouts and bullpens emptied.
Well, not entirely. Jeremy Affledt, who had been warming up, remained in the bullpen, getting ready while most of the Phillies and Giants gathered on the field for some aggressive loitering.
By the time order was restored, Affledt was ready to go. He came in for Sanchez and got Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino out to end the threat and keep the score tied 2-2. That enabled the Giants to claim a 3-2 win on Juan Uribe’s homer and win the NL championship.
If Affledt weren’t ready to pitch, the Phillies could have blown the game open in the third inning and forced a seventh game. Then, who knows what would have happened.
So, for helping the Giants stall for Affledt, More Splash Hits says to Chase Utley: “Thank you.”
The Top 10 List of Non-Giants Who Should Be on Every Giants Fans Christmas Card List:
No. 6, Andrew Friedman and Neil Huntington
No. 7, Roy Oswalt
No. 8, Bud Black
No. 9, Paul Emmel
No. 10, Bengie Molina