Victorino_NLDS_grand_slam

Five memories of Shane Victorino’s time in Philly

Shane Victorino
Shane Victorino was a player to move, but will not be kicked out in shame.

The Phillies traded Shane Victorino yesterday to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for right-handed reliever Josh Lindblom and Double A catcher Ethan Martin as well as a player to be named or cash. The deadline day deal seems like a pretty decent move for the Phillies, who I did not expect to re-sign Victorino after the year the way the 2012 season was playing out (the Hunter Pence trade I have a slightly different take on, but we’ll explore that another time).

Victorino had been struggling this season on offense, on defense and running the bases. It may not have been pretty but Victorino may not have been quite as bad as some would have you believe. That said, the Phillies will be bringing in a relief pitcher (a clear area of need) and a prospect who could fit in to the picture in a few years. Yes, the Phillies were rightly labeled as “Sellers” this trade deadline, but stuck in the bottom of the division with such a huge hole to fill, Ruben Amaro had to make a move to get something for Victorino while he still could. Overall, this seems like a decent enough move.

As Victorino now finds himself in a playoff hunt in Los Angeles, perhaps he can provide some sort of spark and get back in to the mix the way he was during the Phillies’ playoff runs in recent seasons. The change of scenery may be enough to relieve some pressure on Victorino, and hopefully that becomes the case.

Was Victorino the kind of player that should never be traded away? Of course not. Victorino was a nice find by Pat Gillick, developed nicely to become a stable player and dependable starter in the outfield. This season has been unkind to him, or it may be that he is on the decline. But Victorino’s time as a Phillies player will not be forgotten, as he did provide many fond memories for Phillies fans, and his dedication to the community should never be overlooked.

Victorino may wear a different uniform, but there should be no reason to serenade him with a chorus of boos next season when he returns to Philadelphia with the Dodgers (assuming Los Angeles resigns him – I think that will be the case). Here is a look back at some of the top highlights from Victorino’s time with the Phillies.

First, some quick honorable mentions:

Hawaii Five-O – Victorino’s Hollywood debut came in the opening sequence to an episode of the re-launched Hawaii Five-O.

The Shane Victorino hula bobble figurine – Playing off his Hawaiian influence, of course.

Getting ejected from center field – You may never see this again, but Victorino managed to get thrown out from home plate umpire while standing in center field. Surely this did not sit well with radio analyst Larry Andersen.

5. Beer shower in Wrigley

File this under the “Didn’t happen in Philly” category. Victronio, setting up to catch a fly ball to the ivy-covered outfield wall in Chicago’s Wrigley Field, ended up getting soaked as a fan tossed a plastic cup of beer in his direction at the same time the ball was coming in. Fortunately the Gold Glove center fielder did not let it distract him as he recoreded the out in a 2009 regular season game.

4. Saluting Harry Kalas

One of the saddest days in Phillies franchise history has to be the day legendary play–by-play voice Harry Kalas passed away while preparing for a regular season game on the road against the Washington Nationals. As everyone knows Kalas was as much a part of Phillies baseball as any player to wear the uniform, and in most cases he was more a part of it. Kalas died doing what he did, and Victorino found a way to honor him in a small, subtle way during the game that was played shortly after the tragic news.

In the top of the third inning Victorino led off for the Phillies, and delivered a 2-2 pitch in to deep center field for a solo home run to tie the game early on at 2-2 (the Phillies would end up winning 9-8). As he crossed home plate Victorino pointed up to the broadcast booth in Nationals Park, a simple salute to Kalas.

3. Don’t throw at his head!

The tensions had already been flaring between the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2008 National League Championship Series. Manny Ramirez had been the mid-season acquisition that gave the Dodgers a new attitude and approach to the game, which in fairness led them back to the postseason in 2008. In Game Two, Brett Myers had thrown inside on Ramirez, with one pitch being thrown behind the new Dodgers star. Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley never retaliated and pitched just three innings. Rather than use a reliever to do send the message, the Dodgers waited for their return home to do so, with Hiroki Kuroda doing just that.

As the Dodgers were roughing up soft-throwing Jamie Moyer, who struggled with command and perhaps ran in to a buzz saw, Moyer had hit catcher Russell Martin in the knee during his at-bat. The Dodgers more than set the tone with a five run outburst in the first inning and chasing Moyer after just 1.1 innings. With a 6-1 lead, Kuroda recorded the first two outs and then looked to target Victorino with a two-out pitch over the head of the center fielder. Victorino knew that somebody on the team was going to be on the receiving end of some form of retaliation following the Ramirez and Martin incidents.

Victorino was fine being the target, but took exception to having a ball thrown at his head. He gestured and shouted to Kuroda to throw at his ribs instead if they were going to throw at him. The at-bat continued and Victorino grounded out to first base, with Kuroda moving over to cover the base if needed. The verbal exchange between batter and pitcher continued, and soon after the benches cleared. Nothing much came of the incident, other than shouting.

The best part may have been seeing Phillies first base coach Davey Lopes and Dodgers third base coach Larry Bowa shouting at each other. They could have been arguing about 1977 for all we know.

As fate would have it, Victorino would clash with the San Francisco Giants three years later. The summer after a heated NLCS with the Giants, the Phillies headed to the Bay for regular season play, and tempers flared once more. With the Phillies pounding the Giants, 8-2, reliever Ramon Ramirez took aim at Victorino, with the batter taking a few steps angrily toward the pitcher’s mound. Benches cleared and Giants catcher Eli Whiteside grabbed Placido Polanco by the ankles to take him down, inciting what may have been just a heated verbal exchange and nothing more. Victorino fought off teammates and even the umpires to go after Ramirez some more.

2. Setting up Matt Stairs’s Shining Moment

The 2008 National League Championship Series was certainly not short on drama. Leave it to Victorino to have played a key role in two separate incidents. In the game following the NLCS bench-clearing incident, Victorino was 1-for-3 but his one hit was pivotal, and often overlooked.

With the Phillies already jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, Victornio failed to add one with a ground ball double play to end the inning. He flied out in the fourth inning and the Dodgers took the lead in the fifth inning, and regained a lead in the sixth inning with Chad Durbin running in to trouble. Durbin allwoed a home run to leadoff batter Casey Blake and Juan Pierre slapped a double in to left field. A walk to Matt Kemp gave a quick hook to Durbin, and Scott Eyre and quickly allowed the Dodgers to pad their lead with an unearned run with throwing error from Ryan Howard as Rafael Furcal dropped a sacrifice bunt. Pierre scored on the play to push the Los Angeles lead to 5-3. The Phillies were running out of time from seeing the series evened up at two games a piece, but there would be some magic in the eighth inning.

Before Matt Stairs had his one shining moment in a Phillies uniform, it was Victorino that provided the spark. Howard singled to lead off the inning and after Pat Burrell popped up to second base for a quick out, Victornio hit a line drive home run to right field to tie the game at 5-5. The momentum had swung back in favor of the visiting Phillies, who looked to steal a game on the west coast. Feliz lined out two pitches after Victornio’s line shot to tie the game, but Carlos Ruiz singled to left to keep the inning rolling. The Dodgers decided to hand the game to Jonathan Broxton as Matt Stairs stepped up to the plate to bat for reliever Ryan Madson.

You know what happened at that time, but do not forget that Victornio set him up for the moonshot in to the right field stands.

1. The Grand Slam

Shane Victorino is the author of one of the top postseason highlights in Philadelpa Phillies franchise history. This will never be disputed. Though pitcher Brett Myers wrote the prologue for the key moment in the 2008 National League Division Series, it was Victorino who dealt the knockout in the second inning of Game Two in Philadelphia against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Myers had walked in a run in the first inning, but he managed to work out of a much more complicated situation with a ground ball double play with the bases loaded to limit the damage with a 1-0 deficit. With late season acquisition CC Sabathia taking the mound for the Brewers many felt as if Milwaukee would already be in command to head back home for game three with a series split.

Sabathia was the reason the Brewers even reached the postseason, but he was running out of gas after increasing his workload in September down the stretch. Victorino seemed to have found a way to take advantage of the tiring Sabathia, doubling in the bottom of the first inning and stealing third base, but Chase Utley and Ryan Howard each failed to connect and went down swinging to end the inning. But Victorino found something to work with off of Sabathia. So did Myers.

The Phillies tied the game at 1-1 following a double by Pedro Feliz to score Jayson Werth in the bottom of the second inning, and with two outs it looked as though Sabathia would keep the damage done with one run. But the epic at-bat by Myers ended with a two-out walk. Jimmy Rollins showed patience in drawing a second straight walk. Victorino opened up the flood gates by ripping a 1-2 pitch in to the stands in left field for a grand slam, giving the Phillies a 5-1 lead, and hardly looked back the rest of the way to the NLDS victory in four games.

 

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