No one, yours truly included, wanted to see Pat Burrell in a Phillies uniform in 2007 and by mid-season all of us were hoping the Phils could move him at the trade deadline. Trouble was, it was more than a little difficult to move a high-priced outfielder who was hitting .201.
Just goes to show what we know.
On a team with two legitimate MVP candidates and the reigning title holder, Burrell has been second to none over the last two months. He is hitting for average, drawing a lot of walks and mashing the long ball in critical situations. The Phils would be nowhere without Jimmy, Chase and Ryan but they would be somewhere south of the back of beyond without Burrell.
Last night the big leftfielder stroked a three-run homer to knot the score at five apiece with Colorado and in the tenth inning Ryan Howard delivered a game-winning double to the opposite field as the Phils moved to within a game and a half of the Wild Card leading Padres.
Jose Mesa tried his best to give the game away but the rest of the bullpen, Mssrs. Romero, Gordon and Myers, closed the door on the hard-hitting Rockies and set up Howard's heroics. It's safe to say the Phillies have a lot of different heroes every night (and their share of goats, too) and more often than not these days Burrell has been right in the middle of the mix.
For the first time in many years Burrell appears to be healthy; moreover, he appears to be enjoying the game. Whatever else one says about him, Burrell never complained throughout his years in the wilderness. Indeed, he never said much of anything. He grimaced on more than a few occasions, broke his bat across his knee once or twice and largely withdrew into his shell as his struggles and injuries mounted. But he never indulged in that favorite pastime of many local sports stars who fall from grace, blaming the fans. Now he is their darling again and he might just help get them to the Promised Land.
We're lucky to have him around...and I don't mind saying so.