Wednesday, March 29, 2006

It's A Two-Way Street, Pat

Some stereotypes die harder than others.  Just ask Pat Burrell.

In this morning’s Inquirer Pat  repeats for the umpteenth time local sports stereotype numero uno, Philadelphia fans are insufferable and unforgiving.  Nothing pleases them.  It’s a very tired story by this point especially coming from Burrell on the eve of a new season.

Pat had a terrific season in 2005, tying for second in the NL for rbi’s.  Apparently, that achievement was insufficiently acknowledged from his perspective, lost, he admits, in the accomplishments of teammates Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Bobby Abreu.

Speaking to the Inquirer’s Jim Salisbury Burrell said, "’I'm never going to be good enough here.  It doesn't bother me. That's just the way it is. It's the nature of the city. They obviously want the best out of everybody.’"

It’s the “nature of the city”?  Is there a problem with wanting the best?  Would a couple of consecutive seasons of productivity do the trick?

After his breakout year in 2002 during which he hit .282 with 116 rbi’s and 37 home runs, Burrell signed a six-year $50 million contract with the Phils.  The next two years saw his overall output plunge as he hit .209 and .257.  From that perspective, last year was the first time in three seasons he produced numbers equal to those of his best season.

In the end, however, this isn’t really a story about numbers.  Burrell has kept the fans and the media at arm’s length almost from the beginning.  His relationship with both could only be described as prickly.   At least once or twice a season Burrell can be counted on to take his shots at one or both constituencies.  Compare his attitude to that of Utley or Howard, both of whom have been embraced by the fans.  Better yet, compare Burrell’s standoffishness to Rollins, who has been maddeningly inconsistent at times and the brunt of much fan frustration.  In the end, Rollins signed a new long-term contract and the fans embraced him.  He is a fan favorite.

Philadelphia is used to moody, emotionally distant sports figures, but these have consistently produced.  More to the point, they have acknowledged the fans.   Burrell could take a few notes.  It’s a two-way street, Pat.


Pawnking said...

Moody, emotionally distant indeed. Makes me appreciate players such as Utley.

Tell you what, Pat, return all your money to the fans, and we'll cheer you every swing. No one really cheers me at my job, and I make a good sight less than you do.

Oisín/Wizlah said...

Maybe my memory is rose-tinted with age, but I seem to recall little booing reported during pat's year of hell. I seem to recall a fair bit of understanding on behalf of the fans.

Whatever, his moaning is getting a touch tired. Get over yourself Pat. We think you're grand.

But see if you go somewhere else and trash talk us till the cows come home? Then I'll be singing a different tune . . .

J. Weitzel said...

You're correct oisin. They gave him a lot of support, even when he was hitting below .200 two seasons ago. He should consider himself lucky. Has any player been as spoiled as this guy? I don't see him doing interviews, or making appearances at Winter Tour stops. He shows up, plays, collects his $50 million in pay, and goes home.

nat said...

If the same kind of complaints came out of the mouth of Abreu, I would understand. He has been the object of vocal criticism and scorn from some quarters, all while performing well and every day over a period of years. If anything, it has seemed to me that Abreau has suffered unfairly while Burrell has gotten a pass. But Burrell is the one who bitches.

I think it is a good sign of progress fot the Phillies that a few years ago Burrell epitomized the team and now he is starting to seem like the odd man out.

Anonymous said...

Philly fans should be more than happy to have a player like Burrell. Maybe he kept media and fans at bay because for years both wanted to talk more about his behavior off the field than his performance on it. They seemed to have backed off lately for some reason, or maybe he’s just calmed down somewhat.

The fans were patient with him at times during his horrible 2003 season, but how would you feel if every move you made at work was written about or talked about. Then, your nightlife was the topic of conversation among everyone in the city. I understand it comes with the territory, but cut the guy some slack. He came in with almost superhuman expectations...and all the Pat the Bat hype didn't help him, it only hurt. He could never live up to what fans thought he should be.

It seems like Pat likes playing the game and that's what he really wants to do. I don't think he's quite found a healthy balance of working hard, pleasing fans (signing autographs at games, etc.) and having fun off the field. It's been skewed for his entire career, sadly enough.

Pat will have another good season, quietly. Philly fans will always be critical of Pat. He's an easy target.

I don't profess to know everything about Burrell, this is just my observation. Take it for what it is, an opinion.

George S said...

If you do not think you can handle firing an employee, don't become a manager. If you want to keep your personal life to yourself, don't run for office. And if you want a career as a high-profile professional athlete, you have to understand the complete package..the media, the endorsement commitments, the demands of the fans, the $$, agents, the lack of privacy, the travel, and on and on.

In Burrel's case, I have even less sympathy. He is a home-grown athlete (home-grown in the USA), attending a big baseball university, and exposed to the business of baseball from the start. He went in as a #1 draft pick with his eyes open all the way (or his agent or coaches should have told him).

On the other hand, athletes like Abreu, coming from Latin America, have far less preparation for the lifestyle, have a language challenge, and little family network support on hand.

Burrell should look in the mirror every morning and see a young, wealthy, healthy, athletic, good-looking guy and stop whining about how tough he has it. He should be thanking God every morning and not dwell on his life's little hardships.