'Thank You, Pat' -- Remembering Pat Burrell

'Thank You, Pat' -- Remembering Pat Burrell

As far as I'm concerned, Pat Burrell retired the day he rode those Clydesdales down Broad Street. It's how I'll always remember him. So, really, today's news that the long-time Phillie and WFC has decided to call it a career is totally fine by me.
Not that I begrudge Pat his final seasons and additional World Series ring with the Giants, but watching he and Elvis lead the parade to the Citizens Bank Park will always be my lasting memory of the end for Burrell.
I remember sitting at the corner of Broad and Federal waiting for the parade. I remember that after Geoff Jenkins poured champagne onto the crowd as his float went by, a few friends and I came up with the idea of following Burrell all the way to the stadium. 
We ran through the streets to catch up with him and -- from Federal to Packer -- did our best to start as many "Thank you, Pat," "Bring Back, Pat," and "Re-sign, Pat" chants as we could. The practicality or intelligence of re-signing Burrell aside (hint: for baseball reasons, it was probably better that the club parted ways with its long-time left fielder), Burrell was not only the longest tenured Phillie, but he had helped to bring this city its first championship in 25 years. Hell, I would have given every member of the team an extension that day, including the aforementioned Jenkins.
Still, given that 99% of his career as a Phillie came prior to his winning a title, "The Bat" leaves somewhat of an amusing legacy here in Philadelphia for any number of reasons. Of course, before his send-off following the 2008 championship, Burrell had taken his fair share of flack from the fans who felt as though he had never lived up to his early hype or the money he was paid.
That said, when you think about it, Pat Burrell really has become the quintessential Philadelphia athlete, even if this designation is usually thought of differently. There's almost nothing about his persona that isn't somehow memorable. From the infamous striking-out-on-one-knee pose to the legitimate successes as a member of the Phillies to the legendary stories of his off the field "antics," Burrell honestly runs the gamut of everything you could ever expect in following a player from his days as a rookie to his final farewell. 
In short, Pat Burrell was a ballplayer, one in every sense of the word. And he was a ballplayer who understood us, just as we ultimately came to understand him. 
Who will ever forget the full page ad he took out in the Daily News to thank the fans for his time here in town? Who will ever forget his double off the wall in Game 5? Who will ever forget some of the insane stories you heard about his late-night hijinks? 
As the Broad Street Bullies continue to hang around the complex in South Philadelphia and glad hand with the fans, I wish the same for this crop of Phillies, especially Burrell. There's obviously a difference between the athletes who played in the 1970s and those of today, but it's hard to believe Burrell didn't see the lasting impact of those who had come before him and understand it fully. As he once famously told Jayson Werth, "If we can win it here, it'll be better than anywhere."
One final personal story, on the night (of the second half) of Game 5, I packed in front of a television in North Philadelphia with some of my closest friends -- as I'm sure many did with friends, family and loved ones around the Delaware Valley. Shortly before the lot of us made our run from Broad and Cecil B. Moore to City Hall and eventually the memorial base pads left in the CBP parking lot where Veterans Stadium once stood, someone had the presence of mind to start playing Burrell's walk-up music, also known as Don Henley's "Dirty Laundry." Five hours later, when we finally returned to the apartment, it was still playing as loud as ever. It had been left on all night.
It should be played at least once more today:

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

BOX SCORE

Joel Embiid has been making the NBA look easy. Rookie of the Month honors, five double-doubles in 13 games, seven performances of 20 points or more … all having missed the last two years rehabbing from foot injuries.

Embiid, though, still is a player learning the league. Night’s like Monday’s lackluster showing are going to happen, even if it seemed unexpected against the struggling Denver Nuggets. 

“We’ve been used to seeing Jo have superhuman nights,” Brett Brown said after the Sixers’ 106-98 loss (see Instant Replay). “I thought Joel was down tonight.” 

Embiid tallied a total 16 points (5 for 15 from the field, 1 for 3 from three, 5 for 6 from the line) with four rebounds, one assist, a career-high five blocks, three turnovers and three fouls in 25:32. 

He had a quiet first half with six points (2 for 5 from the field) and one rebound in 9:21. The biggest struggle came in the third quarter. Embiid scored a single point off a free throw and shot 0 for 6 from the floor. By the end of three, he was shooting 18.2 percent. 

The big man said he needed to be better at passing out of the double team. He committed two turnovers in the third. 

“I wasn’t getting to my spot and I wasn’t getting what I’m used to getting,” Embiid said of the first three quarters. “I’m going to go back and watch the tape and see what I did wrong.” 

Embiid bounced back for another Embiid-like offensive effort in the fourth. He dropped nine points off an efficient 3 for 4 shooting in 7:31. Still, it wasn’t enough. 

“I made a couple shots,” Embiid said. “It didn’t help us win, so I don’t think it matters.”

Brown noticed Embiid rushing his game. He also thought Embiid’s balance was off, something the big man has been dealing with all season as he continues to find his legs. 

Embiid will not play in Tuesday's game against the Grizzlies. It is part of his workload management in which he does not play both games of a back-to-back. Expect him to hone in on game film until his next matchup, and get back on the roller coaster that can be a first year in the NBA. 

“It's just part of a young man's growth,” Brown said. “It just happens. I don't think we need to read too deeply into it. I think, in many ways, to expect from time to time not as good of a performance as we have been used to is fair enough.”

Best of NHL: Bryan Rust notches hat trick as Pens score 8 in win

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Best of NHL: Bryan Rust notches hat trick as Pens score 8 in win

PITTSBURGH -- Bryan Rust had his first career hat trick, Sidney Crosby added his NHL-leading 17th goal and the Pittsburgh Penguins raced by the Ottawa Senators 8-5 on Monday night.

Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel each had a goal and two assists for Pittsburgh, and Matt Cullen and Justin Schultz also scored. The Penguins poured in six goals over the final 32 minutes after spotting the Senators a 4-2 lead. Matt Murray made 17 saves after coming in for an ineffective Marc-Andre Fleury in the second period.

Pittsburgh has won three straight overall and improved to 7-0-2 in its last nine against the Senators.

Matt Stone had a goal and two assists for Ottawa. Erik Karlsson, Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone and Dion Phaneuf also scored for Ottawa, which lost in regulation for just the second time in its last eight games (see full recap).

Capitals rally late for OT win over Sabres
WASHINGTON -- Marcus Johansson scored the tying goal late in the third period and got the winner midway through overtime to lift the Washington Capitals to a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night.

The goals were Johansson's third and fourth in his last five games. He has 11 for the season.

Jay Beagle added the Capitals' first even-strength goal in three games, as Washington snapped a three-game losing skid. Braden Holtby made 31 saves in the victory, the Capitals second over the Sabres in an 11-day stretch.

Kyle Okposo scored his team-leading eighth goal of the season to give the Sabres the lead in the second period. Zemgus Girgensons also scored early for Buffalo, and Robin Lehner made 30 stops for the visitors (see full recap).

Blue Jackets sweep series from Coyotes
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Sam Gagner had two goals and two assists to help the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Arizona Coyotes for the second time in three days, 4-1 on Monday night.

Nick Foligno and Zach Werensky also scored for the Blue Jackets, who won for the fourth straight time and ninth of their last 12. Columbus picked up its 500th win in franchise history in sweeping the two-game season series with the Coyotes.

Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 17 shots for Columbus.

Arizona backup goaltender Louis Domingue had 30 saves, two days after the Blue Jackets hammered starter Mike Smith with a franchise-record 60 shots in a 3-2 shootout victory in Phoenix.

Arizona struck first 9:28 into the game when Alex Goligoski fed a pass on a power play to Tobias Reider, who slammed it past Bobrovsky's glove side from between the circles (see full recap).