His cross to bear is not a new one.
Just the most recent of an obvious lot.
For years, for decades, for generations, Philadelphia sports fans, not to mention follow-the-flock media, have made it their mission to look past the facts, ignore reality and skip what they see in order to perpetuate many assorted myths, personal vendettas and what have you to tear down individual athletes.
Good ones. Damn good ones.
What’s that, “Ang” doesn’t like Donovan McNabb? Yeah, screw that quarterback. He sucks. Couldn’t even stop himself from throwing up at the Super Bowl.
Jayson Werth had an issue with a fan getting in his way of catching a foul ball? That rat bastard. He can’t play anyway.
Andre Iguodola got how much money? Man, he’s terrible. Not worth a dime.
So, current Phillies center fielder/whipping boy Odubel Herrera is not exactly alone in feeling Philly’s wrath.
Unwarranted wrath that is.
Not for nothing, but the overkill of blame and criticism directed at the guy, and his performance, has highlighted just how dreadful a season the team is having and how clueless those who run the club and follow it are.
Bench him? Bury him? Trade him?
Say it ain’t so.
The first two already have occurred. If the third does, holy cow.
Look, the guy isn’t having a banner campaign overall. He started slow, then dialed it down even further as the Phillies sunk into the abyss during the month of May.
Got it. He didn’t help the situation.
Of course, making him the focal point of all the team’s problems, as if him running through a stop sign or flipping a bat proved a death knell, was silly. Especially when a team is as flawed as these 2017 Phillies are.
At no point did his defense suffer, and, frankly, neither did his passion for playing waiver.
Sorry, watch the game instead of just regurgitating what has become trendy among the masses because this sportstalk radio host said so or a sports columnist wrote so … and forever fail to adapt to what actually is or what has changed.
Yeah, OK, he plays with flare. That’s a problem?!!
Jeez, if ever a team needed some life pumped into – even by artificial means – these Phillies are it. Plus, the dude can play.
Put it this way, while chatter about moving him, either down to the farm or another organization, continues to float around, Herrera, after batting an abysmal .183 in May, has righted his game back to last year’s all-star form. Since June hit, the guy is batting .319 entering tonight’s contest at Miami. He has 8 homers, 18 runs scored, 19 RBIs and 16 doubles over that same 40-game span as well.
Project those out to a full season and we’re talking about a line that reads .319-32-73-77 and with a club-record 65 doubles (which would be just two shy of Earl Webb’s major-league mark). Not bad for a guy manager Pete Mackanin has jerked around in the order for weeks, often dropping him – ridiculously – into the No. 7 hole.
Thing is, for all his mental mistakes or base-running faux pas, Herrera always – ALWAYS – was the most difficult “out” for the opposition, and we’re not just talking at the plate.
Being a kid who made the transition from infield to outfield, he was staring at two major obstacles:
- The reality that he would never be able to succeed because few do, especially in center.
- The perception that he would never be able to succeed because few do, especially in center.
Truth is, Herrera is a very good defensive player who borders on being exceptional. He ain’t quite the outfield version of Freddy Galvis, but, then again, few in Philly seem to grasp just how awesome a shortstop they have in their midst, either.
But instead of recognizing, and appreciating, what we got, we’ll keep ripping the guy and pointing the finger at him when 2-0 leads suddenly become 8-2 deficits.
It’s stupid and it’s sad, but it’s not uncommon.
On the bright side, Herrera gets to keep the cross whether he stays here or not. Philly fans will make sure of that.