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The Bobby Abreu Trade and the Phillies: Four Years Later, No Regrets

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The Bobby Abreu Trade and the Phillies: Four Years Later, No Regrets

On the homemade page-of-the-day calendar that I made my wife as a Christmas present, today's page reads as follows:

"On this date in 2006, Bobby Abreu was traded by the Philadelphia Phillies to the New York Yankees for, well, not much. Although the deal was heavily criticized at the time, the Phillies have since enjoyed the winningest period in their history, winning three division titles, making two trips to the World Series, and winning the 2008 World Championship.

"More relevantly, it was the day we moved to Philadelphia."

For Philadelphia fans, that day meant the end of the misery known as Bobby Abreu, Philadelphia Phillie.

What only fans who watched him day in and day out could appreciate was that Abreu, while accumulating impressive numbers in the home runs, stolen bases, and bases on balls departments, could be a spectacularly bad fielder and could, at times, give the impression of not trying all that hard.

Or so I've been told. Frankly, I thought the move had been a mistake. I was wrong.

The Phillies have had no regrets.

If that day marked the end of the Bobby Abreu Era in Philadelphia, it also marked the end of the Chancey family's own personal hell, a hell that had begun 11 months earlier with Hurricane Katrina.

As we loaded our moving van four years ago today, I was reminded of the one thing my wife and I told each other just before we evacuated the City of New Orleans with my mother and brother in tow and with the massive hurricane looming in the Gulf of Mexico:

No regrets.

We had lots of choices to make that day: whether to leave, when to go, where to go, and how to get there. We had three choices of places to evacuate to because we had people waiting for us in Dallas, Texas, Tallahassee, Florida, and Lake Charles, Louisiana.

We had no idea what lay ahead of us, and so we thought it was important that we not end up playing the "what if?" game should things turn out poorly for us.

And so we didn't. No regrets.

What followed that evacuation, of course, was the worst natural disaster—from a financial perspective—in United States history. The Chancey family spent a brief couple of months as nomads-turned-squatters before ending up in Alexandria, Virginia just in time for Thanksgiving and the longest, most dreary winter these New Orleans folks had ever endured.

We spent roughly a year feeling out of place and out of touch, feeling as though our world had been turned upside down and we had no control over it. Don't get me wrong: Alexandria, Virginia is a lovely place, but we didn't chose to live there, and it wasn't home to us.

And so it was that eight months, a law school graduation and a job offer later, that we found ourselves in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As we arrived with a moving van full of stuff we'd found on craigslist over the previous year, we looked at each other, and one truth became astonishingly clear.

For the first time since the hurricane had forced us from New Orleans, we were once again in control of our own destiny. We were back on track.

We were finally home.

So, too, did the Philadelphia Phillies finally come home that day in July, 2006.  

As it turns out, the Chancey family had moved to Philadelphia on the very day that the Phillies became a National League dynasty, and the ride has been nothing short of magical.  

After trading away Bobby Abreu (I'll never forget my first ever purchase of the Philadelphia Inquirer , which featured a column titled "Wait 'till the Year After Next"), the Phillies went on an improbable run, and Ryan Howard won the NL MVP on the strength of matching Jimmie Foxx's record for home runs by a Philadelphian with 58.

The following year Jimmy Rollins told the world that the Phillies were the team to beat in the NL East and then backed it up, winning his own NL MVP on the strength of becoming the fourth player ever with 20 doubles, 20 triples, 20 home runs, and 20 stolen bases.

I believe it was Shane Victorino's grand slam against C.C. Sabathia in the 2008 NLDS, two batters after Brett Myers' Epic Walk, when I started saying "we" when referring to the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phils got us a world championship that year and then went to the World Series again the following year.

To tell you the truth, I have no problem whatsoever considering the Phillies' run to be my own personal reward for past ills suffered, both the acute trauma of Hurricane Katrina as well as the chronic lifetime condition of being a Chicago Cubs fan.

As I've said in the past, if you spent your life rooting for the Cubs and then moved to a new city and the team in that city suddenly started going to the World Series every year, you'd switch allegiances too.

And so it continues.

Tonight, on the fourth anniversary of Bobby Abreu's departure from Philadelphia, the Phillies are two days into the tenure of Domonic Brown, the player we hope will be the next Phillies superstar. Meanwhile, newly acquired Roy Oswalt takes his first turn in the Phillies' rotation against our NL East neighbors to the south, the Washington Nationals.

Will this be the beginning of a third run to the World Series? Will Oswalt and Brown be the pieces we need to win our second championship in three years?

We'll see.

For my part, I could not be more pleased with this team or this city.  

Becoming a Philadelphian has meant, to me, making "Our Nation's first..." jokes (this is the site of our Nation's first microwave dinner, etc.), figuring out where the best cheesesteaks really are, and making fun of people who take their picture in front of the Rocky statue.

Meanwhile, my wife, my kids, and I have found ourselves in a wonderful West Philadelphia neighborhood surrounded by the best group of friends we could have ever hoped for, living a life I don't think we could have imagined four years ago.

True to our word, we have no regrets.  

As one of my favorite movie lines goes, I'd rather be with the people of Philadelphia than with the finest people in the world.

As for the Phillies, it's been a great run, and while all good things must come to an end, I hope that this Phillies run doesn't end for a long, long time.  

It is crazy to think it all started by trading away what appeared to be their best player, but here we are. Now, as we watch Roy Oswalt take what we hope will be the first step towards our next World Series appearance, hopefully a couple of months from now the Phillies will be able to look back on this deal and, once again, have no regrets.

 

Asher B. Chancey lives in Philadelphia and is a co-founder of BaseballEvolution.com .

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