Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Bill Conlin: Utley, Phillies collect payback against Rockies

NO PRISONERS . . . The good teams don't feel a twinge of pity for a loser that comes to their town trailing blue smoke like a Dust Bowl-era truck carrying a family of foreclosed Okie farmers through Death Valley.

NO PRISONERS . . . The good teams don't feel a twinge of pity for a loser that comes to their town trailing blue smoke like a Dust Bowl-era truck carrying a family of foreclosed Okie farmers through Death Valley.

The good teams don't look past a lineup littered with deep reserves and minor league callups to a weekend series against an upstart team with a payroll just a million bucks more than the combined $24 million Pat Burrell and Ryan Howard will earn this season . . .

No prisoners . . . It is jackboot on windpipe. You want the same controlled fury Lawrence of Arabia displayed when he unleashed his bloodthirsty Arab army on the fleeing columns of a beaten force of Syrian regulars.

"That's [a sweep] a real good sign of the way we're playing right now," manager Charlie Manuel said after the Phillies swept the five-game season series from the team that rudely shattered their 2007 dream.

Sweep . . . That's what all those great Yankees teams did through the eras and decades of eras they dominated. Woe to the bottom feeders of the American League. The 1927 Yankees were 56-10 against the St. Louis Browns (21-1), Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox. One reason the 1964 Phillies had that 6 1/2 game lead with 12 to play was that Gene Mauch went to the whip against the Mets, Astros and Cubs. The Phillies were 40-14 against them, 52-56 against the other six teams.

Woe to the Colorado Rockies. The team that launched its pennant run last October against the limp bats of the Phillies in a swift division series sweep has gone from young World Series team on the come to double-digit bottom feeder deep in the sludge.

It would have been a baseball crime for the Phillies to have lost a game this week to a lineup that included Ryan Spilborghs, Ian Stewart, Chris Iannetta and Omar Quintanilla.

They say revenge is a dish best served cold, but the Phillies' smoking bats turned the three game destructo of the Rockies into a Bobby Flay Throwdown.

What happened in the thrumming Money Pit last night had the formulaic look of a slasher flick. Call this one "Wednesday The 28th, Part V - Chase's Revenge."

In three forgettable games last October, the Rockies pitching hung a 2-for-11 on Utley. He failed to drive in a run.

But on the day he was announced as the runaway leader in the first results of National League All-Star Game voting, Utley took a flying leap and came down on the Rockies' jugulars with both cleats. He wears a cast-iron poker face between the white lines - and frequently outside them - and you will never see him smirk while astride the lifeless carcass of a whipped ball club. But his inner self had to be beaming broadly.

He turned a taut game into the third laugher of the brooming with a three-run fifth-inning blast into the second deck in right. And when Geoff Jenkins rainbowed a two-run shot shortly thereafter, the Phillies had handed winning pitcher Adam Eaton a 6-1 lead and his first victory of the season. In the five games against the Rockies, Utley was 9-for-21 with three homers and 13 RBI - MVP stuff.

It probably helps your All-Star vote totals when the president opines that you are the best player in the game a few days after ESPN lead baseball analyst and Hall of Famer Joe Morgan tells a national audience you are "the best second baseman in baseball, maybe the best player in the game."

One thing you had to like about this public execution was the Phillies' demeanor. They played the three games with business-as-usual focus. There was no finger-pointing or shows of bravado that sometimes surface in a sport where, as veteran baseball men like to say, "The payback is a bitch."

For the Rockies, the payback will have to wait for next year. Barring a Loaves and Fishes miracle, their 2008 is over before Father's Day. Ironically, the Padres team they eliminated in such improbable, dramatic fashion last season to win the wild card is just as deeply buried in the NL West.

The Phillies observed the unwritten protocols of blowout baseball in their 20 run Memorial Day eruption: No big hacks at 3-0 pitches. No attempts to score on wild pitches. No reckless baserunning. Let sleeping dogs sleep, as Danny Ozark used to say in an era when the Phillies were burying a lot of teams by indecent scores. Next year always comes soon enough.

Charlie Manuel, a Civil War buff and a Southerner by both connection and inflection, knows the rules of being the winning general. At Appomottox, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant told Gen. Robert E. Lee that the beaten Confederate troops could keep their horses, "for the spring plowing" and their rifles, "so they could hunt game on the way home."

"That's what he did," Manuel said. "I thought we handled ourselves real well in some games that didn't go Colorado's way. We took care of business, now we have a real tough team to play this weekend. I'm looking forward to it."

The Rockies will drag their guns, such as they are, into Wrigley Field for a four-game series against the first-place Cubs. They don't even get the luxury of a day off. The Rockies are now 20-33. It was not what manager Clint Hurdle envisioned coming out of spring training. But even when healthy his team has played poorly.

"It's probably not what we anticipated," Hurdle said at the start of the trip. "That being said, it's the speed of life. That's what I tell our people at home: 'You want to make God laugh, tell him what you're going to do tomorrow.' "

The Phillies will be firing up the barbecues. The Rockies will be sending 1-5, 6.18 Jeff Francis against the Cubs. The winners play golf. The losers play baseball. *

Send e-mail to

For recent columns, go to