08 February 2011

Countdown to Scottsdale #10: Pat Burrell, OF

I sing the song of Pat Burrell, my high school classmate (well, one year older), with whom I shared the joys of On the Road, who came to his boyhood team by a circuitous route no doubt preordained by the baseball gods, bruised, beaten, languishing, and managed to resurrect his career for the Orange and Black. Yes, he had one of the roughest World Series you're ever gonna see, but for two weeks in the dog days of summer, "Pat the Bat" could do no wrong. That was when he had game winning RBI in four of eight Giants victories and drove in runs in seven of those games, carrying his team through one of the roughest patches of their season. It began on a warm Saturday at the end of July, when Pat connected for a two-run home run off Jonathan Broxton to lift the G's to a crucial comeback win at the Cove over the Hated Ones from Los Angeles...

It was the day Pat Burrell truly became a Giant. I was there with a friend. Our season ticket neighbor had traded us a pair of seats in the 12th row of ol' 104 so a couple of her buddies could sit with her for the game. We'd enjoyed the sun and almost nonexistent offense for a few innings when a mutual friend texted us to join him on the suite level. Little did we know, we'd received a last-second invite to a fundraiser in the AT&T suite. There we were, surrounded by hot dogs and garlic fries, popcorn and taquitos, and bummed out of our minds because Casey Blake had just cracked one off an otherwise sharp Barry Zito to put the Doyers up 1-nil in the 7th. My friend and I were drowning our sorrows in Coors Light when the heart of the Giants' order came up in the 8th, the weight of another one-run defeat waiting in the wings.

Freddy Sanchez and Aubrey Huff were dispatched rather quickly, and it was left to Buster Posey — starting at 1B that day — to keep the inning alive. Well, Gerald did as Gerald does. He kept the inning alive. He had to get hit by a pitch to do it, but it got the job done and brought up Burrell. Joe Torre responded by bringing in Broxton. Pat worked the count full before he got his pitch, and boy, he didn't miss. In point of fact, he nailed the crap out of it. It was only in the air for about 1.8 seconds, and for the first 1.7, I don't think any of the 42,000-plus in the seats (and standing room) thought it was going out. Certainly over Podsednik's head, double off the wall, probably score Posey who was running on the pitch — but gone? Well, talk to everybody's favorite bleacher bum, "Dog". Pretty sure he caught it a foot above the wall.

Delirium. Insanity. Pure, unadulterated joy. There is no other way to describe that moment, the moment I almost fell to my death from the AT&T suite. To be sure, Pat had a tremendous year after Sabean pulled him off the scrap heap in Arizona. (I can't help but think Sabes was following my tweets at the time.) And it was thrilling to watch him enjoy the Giants' epic run alongside his longtime friend and college drinking buddy, Aubrey Huff, like a couple kids who never grew up — even though they've both got me by a year. But for my money, nothing beats the afternoon of July 31, 2010. Because in that moment, I didn't care that Pat was once a jock douchebag who used to talk shit about Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady. All I cared about was the uniform he wore, the name emblazoned on his chest, and the stake he drove through the heart of the blue demons.

Thanks, Pat.

No comments:

Post a Comment