Ryan Howard earned National League MVP honors in 2006, and Jimmy Rollins followed suit in 2007.
Phillies fans think Chase Utley could pull the MVP three-peat in 2008. Utley, born and raised in California, is one of the franchise's most popular players. He also cares about the environment (he published his thoughts at stopglobalwarming.org last year) and is an animal lover (he and his wife, Jen, are involved with the Pennsylvania SPCA).
We asked readers of The Inquirer's Phillies blog - the Zo Zone - for their questions for Utley. Because he gets asked baseball questions every day, we thought we'd throw in a few off-the-wall ones, too.
Thankfully, he played along.
Who is your least favorite pitcher to face?
- Arch D., Philadelphia
Dontrelle Willis, I had a tough time with. And I'm really sorry to see that he's in the American League.
You have a reputation for being cool under pressure. What really goes through you mind in a clutch situation? Is it all business or do you think about what's on the line?
- Bob S., Downingtown
To be honest with you, it's all business. You're trying to succeed every at-bat. Whether it's an important at-bat or not an important at-bat. So you try to keep the same all the time, so it doesn't make a difference.
How do you plan your off-season?
- Kurt H., Hot Springs, Ark.
I usually take a month off after the season is over. I kind of relax. Let my body rest. But come mid-November, I'm hitting the gym and getting ready for this year.
Is it your turn to be this year's MVP?
- Greg M., Ringwood, N.J.
My goal this year is to improve upon last year. That's my goal every year and that's not going to change.
How do you deal with the lack of [the West Coast-based] In-N-Out Burgers out east? When you're home, how often do you visit? And what do you order off the secret menu?
- Keith J., New York, N.Y.
At In-N-Out, I'm "double-double, animal style" [on the secret menu]. I'm a little disappointed there aren't any In-N-Outs on the East Coast. That's probably a good thing, because I might hit them up a little too much. So when I get to the West Coast, [I visit In-N-Out] twice.
There are two cages over a pit of lava and both are descending. In one cage, there are blueprints for revolutionary emissions-free technology. In the other is Shane Victorino. You can only save one. Which one do you save?
- Greg G., Washington, D.C.
OK . . . I'm going to have to save my centerfielder. I'm saving my centerfielder, yes. I have his back. Hopefully, he'd do the same for me.
We know you and your wife are involved in the SPCA. What kind of pets do you own?
- Dave V., Philadelphia
We have two cats that we've had for a few years. I would love a dog, but with our travel schedule, we're not around enough to take care of it the proper way. But one day, maybe, we'll grab a dog.
What is your favorite Philly restaurant?
- Dan C., Philadelphia
I have a lot, but I'm a big sushi fan, so Morimoto's is a good spot to go.
Are you a Led Zeppelin fan or did you just pick "Kashmir" as your intro music because you like it?
- Keith K., Liverpool, N.Y.
I like a few of their songs, but "Kashmir" is just a good, intense song.
What concert or event would you skip curfew for the night before an afternoon game?
- Jordan E., Phoenix
There would probably be a few. Jimmy [Rollins] would like this one: I grew up in Long Beach and I was a big Snoop Dogg fan growing up, so getting to see him perform in person would be fun.