Sunday, August 13, 2006

Pat's Hats Froze His Bat

“You know, this sounds crazy...but I love Philly.”

Coming from Pat Burrell, no, I didn’t think it was crazy. But it was surprising. Maybe he’s finally becoming one of us. Shit, maybe he’ll open a bar in Fishtown.

Baby Girl Burrell, Mr. Tightpants, Pat the Bat, Pat the Flat, Pat the Ass - whatever you wanna call him – has taken a heap of abuse “wid” the works practically since Day One, a familiar treatment for sports stars in Hostile City.

It’s our way of showing we love them.

He has been accused of alcoholism and philandering. He has been considered slothful and greedy. But mostly and most vocally, he is considered an underachieving lout who couldn’t give a damn if the team wins.

That’s why I decided to invite Burrell out to tip a few and ogle the fine poontang out and about Tacony Thursday before the critical series with the Cincinnati Reds. The women really do love the guy. Multiple web pages are devoted to honor his shapely man-ass. It does a man good to relax a little before doing battle, and I figured my neighborhood would offer a little anonymity away from the rich hipsters of Olde City. And while Pat might be shocked at the gritty environs, well, we all know he could stand a little dirt and grime in his life. Good for the soul. Good for the work ethic. Right, Patty?

“That 'gritty' bullshit pisses me off,” Burrell told me after we slid into a booth at Harry’s Hotties, one of my favorites a stone’s throw from the hardscrabble hood’s eponymously-named bridge. “The fans fucking sainted Rowand after he crashed into that fence. Fucking ridiculous. Mediocre hitter; mediocre fielder, really. I’d rather see Victorino out there myself.”

Rowand’s game-winning single in Friday’s marathon aside, Burrell’s estimation of Team Shook Up’s starting centerfielder is hard to counter. To take a look at Rowand’s numbers, it makes a fan pine for the return of his old drinking buddy Jason Michaels. As for his own numbers, Burrell’s are inarguably some of the best among outfielders in either league; not the best, but clearly similar or better than many of the more beloved, cherished and worshipped. In fact, using the sabermetrically-adored measurement of OPS (on-base average plus slugging percentage) our whipping boy ranks ahead of, ahem, Bobby Abreu, Andrew Jones, Jim Edmonds and the reviled J.D. Drew this season.

For some historical perspective, he is ranked by the reputable as being on equal footing with Dodger icon Gil Hodges at this stage of his career. Other players on that list include his doppelgangers Jesse Barfield, Nate Colbert and Tony Conigliaro.

This season, Burrell projects to finish with about 34 homers and 118 RBIs – and I know those stats don’t say it all about a player – but they sure seem to be numbers pretty similar to what Mike Schmidt put up every year. Ah, but there’s the rub: Every year. Schmidt did it every year, albeit in a different era, when the power numbers weren’t as outsized. He struck out less and walked more; he did greenies to keep himself interested. Maybe it helped him to ignore all the booing he heard.

So when the Baby Girl has that bat on his shoulders looking at a called third strike – sometimes two or three times a game like he did in today’s 7-5 heartbreaking loss to the Reds – the fans are less likely to remember what he did Friday, which the Phils won in the 14th inning on Crash ‘n’ Gritty Rowand’s single with the defense pulled in and the sacks jammed. Rowand would never have been a hero without Burrell’s homer and game-tying triple late in the game.

Instead, what will be remembered about this series with the Reds are all the opportunities Patty Boy flubbed. And the fans will continue to boo him mercilessly. Pat loves Philly. Philly loves Pat.

At our happy hour Thursday, Burrell anticipated the angry mob's reaction today.

“They’re giving away a gay-looking cap with my number on it Sunday,” he said as he espied a well-endowed dancer named "Star" sliding down a firehouse pole. “Watch – I’ll take the collar. No – a golden sombrero. That’ll be perfect, dude. Four fucking strikeouts.”

Call him a mystic, because Baby Girl damn near pinpointed his rate of failure on his Hat Day, whiffing three of four times he made an out, including one that snuffed a Phils comeback in the ninth and another in the second in which he tried to fudge a walk by jogging to first. Hey, even a psychic can try to change events in real time. But the booing is eternal and unchanging.

“You know, the straight-laced reporters try to make out we believe we can get to the playoffs,” Burrell told me as we got drunker last week. “They’re like little boys wishing their suck-ass team can pull off a miracle so they can fatten up on the post-season buffet at the hotel.”

“How would know about the post-season, Pat?” I queried.

“Don’t be a smart ass,” he said. “I got friends on the Yankees now. They’re asking for their special orders already.”

"And what would you order in the post-season?"

Pat the Bat smiled devilishly and looked at Star shimmering and shaking.

"Two guesses," he guffawed.


Anonymous ChuckM said...

If there is one Phillie who values his family jewels its Pat The Bat. Any man will instinctively move to avoid a ball thrown at 90 mph that is heading straight for the 'nads but Pat will jump back if the pitch is on the inside corner of the plate. A pal of mine calls it the Burrell Butt Jut, I call it castration anxiety

13/8/06 10:11 PM  
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17/8/06 8:50 AM  
Blogger GM-Carson said...

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17/8/06 8:50 AM  

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