Philadelphia Phillies' Anti J.D. Drews: The Players Who Cannot Be Booed
The Phillies are rolling to start the season. Dominant pitching and an offense that has hit the second most singles in baseball are a big reason for that. The emergence of Antonio Bastardo, Danys Baez and the now injured Jose Contreras have helped solidify the bullpen.
Too many pundits and "experts" decided to overlook the four-time defending NL East champions (and their historic starting rotation) in favor of the Atlanta Braves, a team that has done nothing in the playoffs in a decade except watch the Phillies dominate.
Road games have turned into home games for the Phillies wherever they go. From sea to shining sea, East coast to West coast, the oppositions stadium looks like a sea of red whenever the Phillies are in town. There is an 80% chance that you will see a top 20 pitcher in baseball when you go to a Phil's game, well worth the price of admission.
The Phillies have shown thus far that even though some of the players are different than in years past, the mantra is the same: You better be ready to play us every inning of every game.
They have four starting pitchers who have the potential to dominate an entire game and if they have an off-start, they have another ace up their sleeve ready to battle the next day.
Their lineup has faltered a bit of late, but they have shown that they can still win games with timely hitting. It's funny that the same "experts" who claimed the Phillies will struggle this season with no Utley, Werth, Lidge...list goes on and on, have kept their mouth shut while the Phillies have dominated.
The Phillies have sold out over 140 consecutive games and have already sold over three million tickets for this season. Obviously the fans have fallen in love with this team, but the city still gets a bad rap for incidents from decades ago (when most of us weren't even born) and some idiotic actions committed by a select few.
Any way you slice it, the fans are the reason the Phillies were able to bring together one of the greatest pitching rotations (on paper) in baseball history. Three of the best pitchers in the game waived no-trade clauses and took less guaranteed money to play at Citizens Bank Park.
So why do the fans of Philadelphia still get categorized by a complete idiot who decides to vomit on a little girl, or Santa being booed over a half-century ago? Dodger Stadium has had seven people stabbed in their confines in the last decade, but does the national media report that? Absolutely not, it takes a man being seriously beaten by a bunch of thugs for the spotlight to shine down.
Philadelphia Phillies fans are some of the most loyal and passionate fans in the world and I love how they let players know if they are not playing up to their potential... Or if they just flat-out don't like you. We boo and we boo loud.
But there are some players on this current team that may be "boo-proof." Players that you respect so much either for their hard-work, loyalty, determination and/or past performances that it just doesn't feel right to boo.
So here it is folk's: The top five Philadelphia Phillies who can not be booed.
Honorable Mention- Placido Polanco
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While creating this list, I found that choosing just five Phillies who are "boo-proof" is actually really hard. A perfect example is Placido Polanco. He has been hitting the cover off the ball this season and has been the prototypical two-hitter for nearly a decade.
Big kudos has to go to Ruben Amaro for bringing back Polanco, and much love to Polanco for making a seamless transition to third base. He is the type of player that Philadelphia loves: plays injured, always hustles, classy, does whatever it takes to win, etc.
I have been to my fair share of games at Citizens Bank Park and I can't remember a time when Polanco was booed. That may be because he never gave the fans a reason to boo, but also because he is one of the most likeable players in all of baseball.
Here's to hoping he retires a Phillie.
5- Carlos Ruiz
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Chooch, Senor Octubre, Choochtober, all reasons why Carlos Ruiz has forever endeared himself to the Philly Phaithful.
Is there any other play on the Phillies that you would rather have at the plate in a key moment than Chooch? Huge hit after huge hit, playing through injuries, terrific handling of pitchers, wonderful defensive catcher are all things that Carlos Ruiz has come to be known for in Philadelphia.
He is in the prime of his career at age 32, and the Panamanian sensation is coming off his finest year as a pro in 2010 where he put a line of .302 BA, .400 OBP, .847 OPS, with 8 HR and 53 RBI's. It seems he is finally starting to be recognized as what Phillies fans have known for years, that he is one of the most valuable catchers in baseball.
He also had a baby born exactly nine months to the day of Roy Halladay's perfect game and named him Carlos Ruiz. How could you boo that?
Carlos Ruiz is number five on this list, but he is pretty "unbooable."
4- Roy Oswalt
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Roy O has picked up exactly where he left off last season by posting a 3-0 record with a ridiculous 1.88 ERA, 21 K's, and .88 WHIP. Before last night where he only lasted three innings...
Hardly a reason to boo Oswalt.
Since last season after being acquired at the trade deadline with the Phillies, Oswalt is on record for a whopping two losses in the regular season. He has been everything the Phillies had hoped he would be and more when they stole (received gift) from Ed Wade and the Astros. Thanks for extra $11 million Ed...
It seems Oswalt can do no wrong with the Phillies. The right-hander waived a no-trade clause to be apart of a winner and he is now apart of one of the most recognizable rotations in MLB history. He is another player that Philly "gets" and always wished they had. The fans love his work-ethic, his ability to pitch through pain, and of course his ability to dominate other teams.
Oswalt and Philadelphia seem like a match made in heaven and hopefully he can finish his career in the Phillies red pinstripes.
3- Chase Utley
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Chase Utley taking grounders, WOO-HOO!
If this list was conducted last year, Chase Utley would have been in the top two no questions asked, but Philly's patience is starting to grow a bit thin. Thank goodness the team has gotten off to such a great start, or Philly Nation would be pretty angry that pre-preseason soreness (get it?) has kept their star second basemen off the field for months.
Utley is loved in Philadelphia plain and simple. If Philadelphia could create the perfect baseball player, it would be pretty close to the Chase Utley mold. A tough, instinctive, talented, fan-friendly warrior that plays with reckless abandon (even to a fault sometimes.) He is the type of player that has no problem trying to stretch a single into a double by diving head-first into second base when his team is down by seven runs in the eighth inning.
He has played eight seasons in Philadelphia and has already earned the title of best second basemen in Phillies history. He has averaged over those eight seasons the following: 29 HR's, .293 BA, 105 RBI's, 15 SB, .894 OPS with a .982 fielding percentage.
That is why Chase Utley can do no wrong in this city. He has been one of the centerpieces of the greatest decade in the entire 121 year history of the Philadelphia Phillies, and Philly Nation has enjoyed cheering for one of the most beloved Phillies of all time.
They will be there to cheer for Chase when he is inducted into the Hall of Fame as well.
2- Roy Halladay
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A perfect-game, second no-hitter in postseason history, a Cy Young award, and the warrior mentality that Philly hasn't seen since Rocky. Even better though, this Doc Halladay is the real deal.
The top pitcher in baseball choosing to waive a no-trade clause to pitch in front of you Philadelphia should make you feel pretty good. It has been a pleasure watching Halladay dazzle the best hitters in the world and for many reasons Halladay will never be booed in Philadelphia.
If he has a "poor" start it is expected that he will rebound the next game and dominate. Every time Doc steps onto the mound the Phillies are expected to win. He provides the kind of leadership, talent and mental framework that will forever be legendary in Philadelphia.
It could be argued that no player in Philadelphia sports history has made such an impact on the city in such a short period of time.
1- Cliff Lee
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To be completely honest, I could not fully enjoy Doc Halladay's magical first season with the Phillies because I still missed Cliff Lee. There is no debate that Halladay is the superior pitcher and he is the best pitcher in the game, but Lee will always have a special place in the hearts of Philly fans.
Whether it was the non-chalant no-look catch of a pop-up, the behind-the-back snag of a line drive, the utter dominance Lee displayed in the biggest of stages against sports' most storied franchise, or all of the above. He has forever endeared himself into the hearts of Philadelphia.
The best fans in America felt cheated when the Phillies brass stated: "We needed to replenish the farm system."
Their intelligence felt disrespected as a clear case of salary cutting. They made a decision that they did not want to compete with the rest of the bidders when Lee became a free agent.
Philadelphia could not be silenced. Talk radio and television rang out during the entire 2010 season of the injustice which was the trading of Lee. Lee himself even spoke of his love of the town and his "utter shock" that he had been traded.
It is not often in sports when a franchise admits its mistakes (i.e Philadelphia Eagles) but credit has to be given to the Phillies ownership for breaking their own rule (no more than three years for a pitcher) and going all-in this season.They righted a wrong and brought back the player that the fans loved the most, the player that never should have left in the first place.
And plenty of credit needs to go to Lee and his family. They did not hold the trading of him away to the western part of the country against the Phillies. They went with their heart and chose Philadelphia over everywhere else. Sure the Phillies gave him a huge contract, but he still took at least $20 million less to play here, not chump change.
This will go down as one of the greatest love stories in Philadelphia history and it is rekindled every time he takes the mound. Philadelphia has fallen in love all over again.
One of the best pitchers in the game chose you Philadelphia. The atmosphere that you create is something that is unmatched in baseball.
Rob Maaddi of NBCsports.com reported Lee stating: ""I can hear the noise, hear the volume, It felt good to know fans are excited to see me back. You try not to focus on it too much and get hitters out, but I gave myself a minute to notice it."
The guy has never won a World Series here, yet, but there is no denying that Cliff Lee and Philadelphia is a true love story.
As long as Cliff Lee continues to take the mound every fifth day and play his heart out for the city that loves him....
Cliff Lee will never be booed in Philadelphia.