As the negotiations between Major League Baseball and the Players Association near the finish line, it signifies the end of an unusually long period of downtime for professional baseball players. Throughout the past few months, Bryce Harper has stayed busy.
He’s been at home in Nevada watching his son Krew grow-up and has even signed a deal with gaming management company Loaded.
Harper has also agreed to more interview requests while in quarantine. On Saturday, Harper spoke with Rawlings on a variety of topics, including his life at home, gaming and his love for his teammates.
He was also asked who is favorite Phillie of all-time was. While he acknowledged a few legendary Phillies of the past that were before his time, he didn’t hesitate to say who it was: Chase Utley.
“Everytime we played them, he’d look at you and it’s like he would kill you,” Harper said. “Like it’s like ‘Don’t mess with me or I’d kill you.’ He had that instinct. He had that mentality. I don’t think anything really bothered him on the baseball field. He played the game hard every single day. I think he’s one of the best second baseman to ever do it.”Embed from Getty Images
Utley is certainly the best second baseman in Phillies history. In his 13-year career with the Phillies, Utley hit 233 home runs and had a 122 OPS+. He ranks fourth all-time in bWAR amongst Phillies players and is arguably the most valuable Phillies player during the 2007-’11 run. Once he’s eligible, Utley will surely be in the Phillies Wall of Fame.
“(Utley’s) one of the best postseason guys,” Harper said. “He really understood the game and he understood how to play it. I think he was very respected in Philadelphia and I think he’s one of the favorites within the organization as well.”
Philadelphia’s love for Utley was evident a year ago from Sunday when the team held a retirement ceremony for The Man before their game against the Miami Marlins. It was one of the hardest tickets to secure of the 2019 season because Utley is one of the most popular athletes in Philadelphia sports history. One of the reasons why Utley’s career is remembered so fondly is because he was as clutch as it gets in the postseason, including the 2009 World Series. Harper touches on that in the interview.
“It’s very vivid in my mind of ’09,” Harper said. “Of course, the Yankees won that year so that was terrible for the Phillies organization but the way he just… I think he hit like six or seven homers in the World Series or something like that? I think he just went off.”
Utley did go off. He hit five home runs against the Yankees in ’09. Despite the Phillies losing in six games, there was a case for Utley to be named World Series MVP.
“He’s so much fun to watch,” Harper said. “He just understands the game so well. He’s very with the game and I think that’s why you see him hanging around with the Dodgers. The way he goes about, it’s pretty incredible.”
Here’s the full interview with Harper from Rawlings:
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