Bobby Abreu returned to Philadelphia on Monday as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and for the first time as an opponent since 1997 when he was with the Astros.
He stepped to the plate in the first inning and was immediately booed. Really? I remember him for what he did for the Phillies, while clearly the booers remember him for what he didnt do.
I remember the first sports related disagreement I ever got into with my husband. It was about Abreu. My husband is a Philly guy, born and raised in Roxborough. While I wont say hes a cynic, he would agree I see the good in people far more often than he does.
The disagreement went something like this:
Me: The guy hits .300 year in and year out.
Husband: I have no respect for a guy who wont run into the wall to make a catch.
Me: He walks over 100 times a year and always finishes in the top 10 in OBP.
Husband: Hes lazy, doesnt run hard.
Me: He won a gold glove.
Husband: What a joke. (OK, not my strongest point in the disagreement.)
For those of you not old enough to remember, Abreu was the first trade Ed Wade made as GM of the Phillies. Wade sent Kevin Stocker, the last real piece of the 1993 team, to Tampa Bay for Abreu, who was picked up by the Devil Rays from Houston in the expansion draft and immediately sent to Philadelphia. Nobody knew much about Abreu heck Harry Kalas didnt even know how to pronounce his name. He called him Bobby A-brew for a while.
I remember being in L.A. covering a game against the Dodgers in 1998. I needed a pregame interview, so I requested Abreu. (This was back when you could get a player to do an interview just before a game.) Abreu had never done a television interview before. He was nervous, not confident in his ability to speak English well enough. He made it through. I liked him as a person, so I wanted to see him succeed.
Abreu, Scott Rolen, Doug Glanville, Mike Lieberthal they never won anything with the Phillies. They got close in 2001, the first year Larry Bowa was the manager. They were eight games up in the division on June 1, but finished two games behind the Braves in the division. They went 86-76 that season.
I proudly admit I see the glass half-full and I still appreciate what Abreu brought to this team at a time when they were climbing back to respectability. I also think when he was traded to the Yankees in 2006, it was time for him to go and for the team to move on and up.
Abreu is back in the National League for the first time since leaving the Phillies. Hes hitting .310 and has a .437 on base percentage in 26 games since signing with L.A. as a free agent May 4.
If the Dodgers win, he wont be the reason why, just as he wasnt the reason the Phillies didnt win. But I believe a guy who is one of four players in MLB history with more than 500 doubles, 250 homers and 350 steals, who reached nearly 34 of those numbers as a Phillie, doesnt deserve to be booed in this city.