Philadelphia, you need a new man in your life. It’s time. Since April 4, 2003 you’ve been faithful, sometimes to a fault. Sure, your eyes wandered. But your heart has only ever belonged to one man. The Man. Chase Utley. This week, that silver fox walked into the sunset; and Philadelphia, it’s time to move on. It’s time to start getting comfortable with the idea that there could be another love in your life. I’ve taken it upon myself to try to make a case for a few eligible bachelors who just might be the next great romance between passionate fan base and dedicated player.
The current Phillies look full of promise. Last season, they almost looked like the 2007 team, those guys on the doorstep of greatness. Unfortunately the similarity ended in idle chatter, as the Phillies collapsed in the August heat. There’s still a lot of talent on this team, despite how disappointed we all were before summer was even over.
What about Aaron Nola? What’s not to like about a Cy Young-contending starting pitcher. He is clearly just beginning to blossom, but there is just something about the nature of pitchers. It’s like they don’t have the time to give you the affection you need. They go away for four days a week. It’s hard to commit to that kind of long distance relationship.
Maybe we need to think outside the box a little. Could the next great Philadelphia love be an interesting free agent right around the corner? Perhaps, but Manny Machado will never be Johnny Hustle. He’s probably not the guy for you, Philadelphia.
Truly the most magical moment from the Phillies season came on a July night in Washington D.C., when Rhys Hoskins looked like he was going to steal the Home Run Derby. It was exciting. Your heart swelled with pride, and you wanted to tell all your friends. It’s the way a good love story begins.
Maybe you want something different, maybe you’re a Flyers fan. It’s not unheard of in Philadelphia to fall for a man on skates. Who’s heart doesn’t speed up a little when they think about Eric Lindros?
Claude Giroux is the easy pick, but honestly if it was meant to be between you and Claude, it would have happened by now, right? Sure, there was “The Shift”. That was a beautiful moment, and you might have felt some butterflies. But it just isn’t there. The chemistry for real long lasting love, well, there just isn’t any spark.
Flyers fans, the man who could capture the heart of this city, his name is Hart. It’s all there. It’s in the name. I know he isn’t even between the pipes for the big club, but just stop and imagine for a moment the potential. How hard would you fall for a true, honest to goodness, top net minder? The 1970’s belonged to Bernie, maybe the upcoming decade goes to Hart. But we’ve had our hearts broken by goalies before. Perhaps we shouldn’t be looking on the ice.
Every night, Ben Simmons does something with the basketball that you are convinced you’ve never seen before. He is such are rare combination of agility and power, but he’s aloof. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is; something tells me Ben Simmons isn’t “The Man.” But the Sixers may have the best candidate to step into our collective lives yet.
There’s just something about Joel Embiid. He is the living embodiment of “The Process.” It’s like his coming was foretold in legend. Sure, Joel arrived a bit damaged, and he required a patient sort of courtship as he healed and was restricted night after night. But you could see by the way he played with such joy that he’s more than special. All of your friends in other cities told you not to get too emotional; he is fragile, and would never be a great center. That jealousy mixed with a bit of fear just shows that nobody can get under the opposition’s skin the way Joel Embiid does.
But honestly we shouldn’t even be having this conversation. There shouldn’t be a shred of doubt in your mind who the man in your life is. If it wasn’t for that knee injury taking him away from you just as he was sweeping you off your feet, Carson Wentz would already have carried you over the threshold. It is the only real shadow on what is otherwise our happiest of endings. It wasn’t Prince Harry’s doppelganger who finally delivered Philadelphia our Superbowl championship; it was Nick Foles. Nick cast a spell so intoxicating that we nearly forgot what we had. Carson is a true franchise player, a cornerstone. The faces around him will change, but loves like this don’t come around every draft class.
Maybe for some of you it’s already happened–you found the new man in your life, and you’re already in deep. But for some of you that have been longing to feel the flush of a new love again in the Philadelphia sports world, consider some of the players on this list. I think that’s what Chase would want.