Four-for-Four: The Chase Utley Damage-Control Edition

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Sep 18, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley (26) receives the Phillies community outreach award prior to playing the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. The Marlins defeated the Phillies 4-3 in ten innings. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday Philadelphia! In an attempt to send you into the weekend with just the right dose of fandom and fun, Section215.com has decided to move the ‘Four-for-Four’ right to the doorstep of your haven from work and school. It has been an eventful couple of weeks since are last entry to say the least.

The disappointment of the Eagles playoff loss has all but wore off and the focus has shifted toward building back up for the future and one can say, with at least moderate confidence, that things are looking up. In the past couple of years, I would look at a team like the 49ers or Seahawks and think there was no chance that the Eagles could reach that level of overall talent. Now, with a promising young quarterback coming on the cheap, a youthful core of playmakers on both sides of the ball, and two successful drafts in the bank with hopefully a third on the way (looking at you Tom Gamble) a spot among the NFC’s elite does not seem too farfetched.

The Flyers, much like pretty much the entire Metropolitan Division except the Penguins, are mired in inconsistency. After winning three straight games capped with a home victory against the Canadiens, the team has lost three of their last four including a shootout loss to the Predators on Thursday. Their next four games come against the three bottom teams in the division (Islanders 2x, Hurricanes, Blue Jackets). This would be welcome news if all three teams weren’t playing their best hockey of the season. Especially New York, who has one eight of their last ten games, pose a threat to knocking the Flyers down the division ranks. If the team expects to continue to contend over the course of the season, they must do everything they can to try to remain as one of the eight playoff teams representing the Eastern Conference. Falling out of that top eight is easy, getting back into it is far more difficult. The Flyers really need at least three wins out of the four games to stay the course or they could easily be on the outside looking in by this time next week. We’ll dig a little deeper into what’s going on with the Orange & Black. By the way, that Shea Weber guy on the Predators is pretty good, huh? Anyone else remember this?

Sigh…

On to the 76ers, who continue to play games with the emotions of their tortured fanbase. Watching a Sixers game has to be one of the most bizarre experiences one can think of as a sports fan. There is so much inner conflict over the course of the game that, by the end of it, one does not even know how to react to the final score. First, the team won four in a row heading into the New Year. Then, they lost four in a row to fall back down to Earth. On Tuesday, they won in dramatic fashion over a young Bobcats team with Thad Young hitting a three-pointer in the waning seconds of the contest. If it weren’t for play-by-play announcer Marc Zumoff being one of the best in the business, I don’t think someone even telling me to be excited could get me THAT excited for a win of that nature. All that being said, the 76ers are a fun team and Brett Brown seems insistent on developing a winning culture. Philadelphia clearly does not have the talent to be a team that wins on a consistent basis, but Brown instilling the sort of desire to compete and win is vital if the Sixers are going to evolve as a team. A team that actually ‘tanks’ means that even its young players who hold a future role with the organization are okay with losing. This is a terrible mentality for a young player to start his career with and, even if it means moving down one or two draft slots, I want my young players to be trying to win at all costs even if the effort might not be enough given the surrounding talent.

But this week we start with the Phillies *sighs*. With Chip Kelly in town, the 76ers looking like they could be set up nicely for the future, and the Flyers always holding down a fanbase that rivals many American hockey followings in the country, the Phightins are taking on water fast. More and more, the Phils are looking like the ‘Woody’ to the rest of the sports teams ‘Buzz Lightyear’ and if things don’t turn around soon they could end up like that weird prospector doll in Toy Story 2. These past few weeks, the organization seems to have noticed their plummeting approval ratings and are pulling out all the stops to slow the bleeding. The new television contract was a start. Then the team brought back the beloved Charlie Manuel as a senior advisor to the General Manager. I am not certain as the Manuel’s front-office acumen, but his relationship with Ruben Amaro Jr. should make for sitcom-level hijinx as the duo tries to fix the floundering Phils. The latest development with the team involves arguably its most beloved player. One of the reasons that Chase Utley has remained teflon with the team’s fanbase is that he really does not talk that much. He is the quintessential ‘does his talking on the field’ type player and rarely does he have any foot-in-mouth moments. When Utley DOES decide to talk, it’s usually pretty epic (see World Series Parade Speech). In the past week or so, the second-baseman had a media tour of sorts on both a local and national scale. Has Utley just decided that now, at 35 years old (that happened fast), he wants to be a chatterbox? With that, we kick of the ‘Four-for-Four’ with the Phillies

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Tags: Charlie Manuel Chase Utley Chip Kelly Claude Giroux Football LeSean McCoy MLB NBA NFL Philadelphia 76ers Philadelphia Eagles Philadelphia Flyers Philadelphia Phillies

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