Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Pat "The Pat" Wants to Remain a Phillie

Did you know?

An article today in the Philly Inquirer points out that Pat Burrell is only the third player in Phillies history to hit 20 or more homers in seven straight seasons (joining Mike Schmidt and Bobby Abreu). His 218 career homers are fifth in franchise history. And he has had 95 or more RBIs in each of the last three seasons. He is also one of "four position players, joining J.D. Drew, Adrian Beltre and Eric Chavez, who have contracts of $50 million or more and never made an all-star team."

For Phillies phans, the career of Pat Burrell in a Philadelphia has been that of an enigma. In 2002, his second full year in the majors, many fans, including myself, saw him as our city's next superstar. His accolades and numbers against the hated Mets remains among the greatest in the sport. Despite his upside, his long homerun swing has seen many more whiffs than dingers. On a team with 3 perennial MVP candidates in Utley, Howard and Rollins, and potential Cy Young mainstay Hamels, fans have grown weary of the "Bat's" underachieving. Yet, in the wake of their historic rise to division champions last year, Burrell's production and enthusiasm reignited the team, and fan base.

Despite efforts by management to move him and his hefty contract, and fans' efforts to run him out of town, Burrell remains as much a part of the Phillies re-emergence as playoff contenders than ever. The hope that he will regain his early promise lingers. A holdover from the overpaid, deadweight days of Abreu, Bell and company, I never thought we'd still see him in red and white, none the less the National League given his injury problems and defensive liability.

Burrell has arguably been booed and criticized as much as any athlete in the city's history. Still, he likes it here, and as the article referenced above points out, wants to remain a Philadelphia Phillie. That makes him sound more a machine than man, but, in a sense, that's admirable. When "superstars" like Wagner and Rolen couldn't wait to bolt and couldn't handle the rigors of playing in the City of Brotherly Love, Pat still yearns to win us over, and more importantly win us a championship.

We, like many, have been critical of him. But just like any baseball fan around this time of year, we have hope that this year will be different. That this is our year. This is Pat's year. God willing.

Said Burrell in the Inq piece,"Any time you deal with adversity and go through personally some of the things I have in this game, you have two choices. You can let it beat you up, or you can build from it and go forward. Because of that you become stronger. I believe I'm not only a better player, but a better person - definitely more understanding. Sometimes you feel like you're all alone out there, but everybody that played long enough has been through times when things aren't going right."

Things haven't been right for sometime, both in his game and in our relationship as fans with Pat. Maybe this year we can both make amends.

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