I put up all winter with my brother Fred harping about Pat Burrell.
"Pat Burrell is going to have a break out year, he's leading the Phillies to the World Series, he'll hit 40 home runs, you watch, Pat will do it this year."
I'm glad my brother doesn't bet on baseball like he does at the track. His theory holds about as much water as a bucket full of holes.
Or does it?
You have to give Burrell some credit here. Wasn't long ago, mayb three weeks at most, when he was so close to the Mendoza line he could have tripped over it. His average dropped to .203. When I played American Legion summer baseball for a pretty good Belmont Hills team, our coach, Al Turtle, who hung out at the Third Base Bar in Manayunk, when Manayunk was a shot and a beer town, not a sissy arts center, had an expression.
The Hill field had a cut-out in the fence about 15 feet up the third base line and Turtle would squat there barking orders at the infield. Since, as the team catcher, I was the closest to Turtle, I heard everything he said.
Sometimes Turtle would bark at me, loud enough for me and the batter to hear, "Ronnie, outside, go outside." And I would shift my weight a little to the right and so the batter would think we were pitching him outside, which of course we had no intention of doing...Turtle just wanted him to think that.
One time we were playing a team we hated, Narberth. They had a kid on second and Tony Russo was pitching for us, which gave me all I could handle because Tony could throw about 90 MPH. Anyway, Pete's girlfriend JoAnn was in the third base stands that game and through my catcher's mask I see Pete, our third baseman, with his head turned toward the stands and making smooching movements with his lips to JoAnn.
So I quietly yell over to Coach Turtle: "Coach, Pete."
Turtle yells out to Pete:"Hey loverboy, pay attention to the game," which broke up the infield and gave the third baseman a life-long nickname."
About three pitches later the Narberth kid on second breaks for third just after Russo releases the ball and it hit my glove doing about 93 and I throw the ball chest high to Pete, who again is making smooching movements to JoAnn.
The ball hits Pete on the chest and drops straight down on the grass; the Narberth kid never slows down and he is now heading home. Pete scoops the ball up and throws a srike to me and I of course do a tremendous job blocking the plate--which would not make a Rod Barajas 'how to do' video--and the Narberth kid is out by ten feet.
Anyway, Coach Turtle had an expression he frequently used: "_ _ _ _, or get off the pot." When Coach said that, we knew he meant business.
Which brings me back to Pat Burrell.
You have to give the leftfielder credit. Back at the Mendoza line, making $14 mil this year and $15 next year, he could have given up and coasted the rest of the way. Hey, he gets his money either way. But he didn't. He fought back and raised his average with some key hits over the past 10 days. But Pat still has a way to go.
Now with Utley out, it's time for Pat to step up. As Coach Turtle would say: "Pat, _ _ _ _, or get off the pot."
(This was thought about and drafted before John Smallwood's story appeared in today's Daily News) You can see Ron's book at: www.ourcitythebook.com
That Belmont Hills team had a third baseman who was a pretty good player, but when his girlfriend JoAnn from the Main Line came to the game, he got distracted.