11/05/09 3:20 AM EST
Utley flirts with rare feat for runner-up
Phils star gives MVP-caliber performance in losing effort
By Tim Britton / MLB.com
The main reason Richardson was on the losing side that year was because of the player manning second for his opponent, Pittsburgh's Bill Mazeroski, who hit the first title-winning walk-off home run in World Series history in Game 7.
Utley got to Sabathia again in Game 4, cutting a two-run deficit in half with another solo shot to right in the seventh inning.He set the tone in a must-win Game 5 with a first-inning, first-pitch three-run homer to right off A.J. Burnett. And he tacked on another solo shot in the seventh off Phil Coke -- an insurance run that proved vital in the late innings of the game. Utley's quintet of long balls in the Series tied Reggie Jackson's outburst in the 1977 Fall Classic, and his seven career World Series homers are the most by a second baseman. "Obviously, it's great company," Utley said after Game 5. "At some point, not right now, maybe I'll look back on it and see what kind of special moment it is." Utley's not the kind of player that soaks up attention; in that way, he's something of a foil to his double-play partner, Jimmy Rollins. But don't let that persuade you into thinking Utley isn't passionate about what he does. "He's one of the most prepared, one of the most dedicated, he has the most desire and passion to play the game that I've ever been around," manager Charlie Manuel said following the Game 5 win. "I used to say Kirby Puckett was my favorite player, and all those things I just said, I used to say those about Kirby Puckett. "He's a pleasure to be around and a pleasure to manage. I mean that, and I could not say enough about him because that's what I think about him." In the end, like Richardson, Utley wasn't able to do enough himself to lift his team to a title. But he can still take solace in this: Richardson's Yankees were back in the World Series the next two seasons, and each time they came home with the trophy. "We didn't accomplish our goal that we set out for the season, but we got to a spot where a lot of teams never get a chance to be. For that, we should hold our heads high," Utley said. "We'll try to focus on next year, try to get ready this offseason, try to become the best players we can be."
Tim Britton is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.