Chase Utley's Six Hits Last Night Help Explain Why Baseball Is Becoming a Second-Tier Sport
Chase Utley had six hits yesterday in a 14-inning loss to the Orioles. He was 6-for-7 with two doubles. He, unbelievably, became the third player this week to get six hits in one game (Wilmer Flores on Sunday and C.J. Cron on Saturday). But with those three included, it’s only happened 23 times since 2000 and 51 times since 1970. Utley became the first Dodger since 2002 and only third player in team history to get six hits in a game (by comparison, the Phillies have one… in 1953).
He became the third-oldest player in MLB history to do it, bested by only Cal Ripken in 1999 and Ty Cobb in 1925. But perhaps the most impressive part of Utley’s game was that his whole team wasn’t ripping the pitching apart. He’s the first player since 2013 to have six hits in a game where his team scored six or fewer runs, and only the second since 2003 (when Nomar Garciaparra did it in a 6-5 loss against the Phils).
It is inexplicable that he was the third player to do it in less than a week, and it’s almost as inexplicable that Utley, at age 37, whose career was written off just one year ago – literally one year ago today, Ryan Lawrence – is still performing the way he is, in this case with an impressive six-hit performance. And yet, it’s almost as if Major League Baseball doesn’t want you to see it.
A quick YouTube search for “Chase Utley” over the last 24 hours yields NO results. None. Six hits by a player in a big market, and there’s not one video of it on YouTube. In the NBA, there are a slew of fan-edited videos when a stretch-five approaches a double-double with a few blocks on a Tuesday night in Milwaukee. Chase Utley records six hits in LA and it’s crickets chirping in 1s and 0s.
On MLB’s site, where they’ve always placed a high priority on their proprietary video, there is video of Utley’s six-hit performance, but it’s not embeddable on other sites. You have to click this link and then probably watch an ad to view it.
MLB has a problem. They are clueless as to how to promote their stars, or even individuality. On Monday, Bryce Harper wasn’t allowed to use his patriotic bat, or wear his Stars-and-Stripes cleats. Compare this to the NBA, where even mid-level stars have shoe deals, wear (league-sanctioned) sweatbands, accessories, and other assorted flair. They have personality. The NFL can tamp this down – and they do – because
they’re assholes the sport is so damn popular. But MLB has a problem– it needs to embrace individual achievement, and cater to accomplishments that lend themselves to social sharing. A quick six-hit montage is almost a no-brainer in this regard.
Perhaps due to years of draconian rules with regard to posting videos on YouTube, they’ve driven away anyone who might want to create and share highlights. They’ve sacrificed their long-term prospects for petty short-term clicks (revenue?) and some vague concept of the sanctity of the sport, which is the very thing driving people away from it.
Of course, people are still flocking to this beautiful t-shirt. Get one.