Anyone who knows me knows that I disliked Shane Victorino. Whether, it was the awful routes to fly balls, 2-0 pop ups, first pitch swinging, or just overall goofiness, Victorino drove me up a wall. With that in mind, it’s impossible to ignore his accomplishments since his selection as a Rule 5 pick in 2005 from the Dodgers. Since the Dodgers didn’t want him back, Shane was allowed to spend the 2005 season in the minors for the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Red Barons. Victorino, did it all that year, hitting 25 doubles, 16 triples, 18 home runs, stealing 17 bases and hit .310 on his way to winning the International League MVP. After the trading deadline in 2006 when the Phillies traded Bobby Abreu (the irony on that later), Victorino started 51 games and hit .307. The first great moment in Victorino’s career as a Phillie was in 2007 when he hit a walk-off home run on his own bobble figurine day (Also one of HK’s great calls).
Later that season, Shane hit a solo home run in Game 3 of the NLDS, a game which ultimately knocked the Phillies out of the playoffs. In 2008, Shane made one of his greatest defensive plays when he threw out a Braves runner trying to score to end the game and save Brad Lidge’s perfect season. I’ll never forget Chip Caray’s call as I’ve probably watched that replay dozens of time. “Victorino’s throw isssssss in time and the Phillies hang on and winnnn.”
As a sports fan, there are certain moments that are etched in your brain forever. For Game 2 of the NLDS, I was watching it in my friend Cody’s dorm room at Villanova. The CC chants are something I’ll never forget. Then all of a sudden Shane stepped to the plate and had one of the most memorable grand slams in Philadelphia Phillies’ history. Shane Victorino took down the big bad CC Sabathia. The Phillies won the game and took the series in four. In the next series vs. the Dodgers, the Phillies had a 2-0 series lead heading back to Los Angeles. In Game 3, Dodgers’ pitcher Hiroki Kuroda threw a pitch near Shane’s head. Shane looked straight at Kuroda and told him not to throw at his head, but throw at his waist. The benches cleared, but nothing escalated from there.
The Flyin Hawian got his revenge the next night. Watching this game on my couch next to my very sick mother, my frustrations were riding high as the Phillies fell behind 5-3. In the 8th inning, as visions of a 2-2 series were crawling in my head, Shane ripped a two run, game tying home run off of Cory Wade into the Dodgers’ bullpen. With a sick mother next to me, I did my best to keep my emotions in check. Two batters later, Matt Stairs hit a two run home run to give the Phillies the lead. Sick mother or not, I went nuts. The Phillies won the game and won the series the next night. Shane’s homerun in Game 4 of the NLCS often gets overlooked because of Stair’s homerun that went deep into the night (A brilliant Joe Buck call), but without it, who knows what happens in a 2-2 series?
Shane had more than those few playoff moments, he was very good offensive player from 2006-2011 including two trips to the All-Star game. Never a big power guy despite hitting 17 and 18 home runs in 2010 and 2011, Victorino finished with a .279/.345/.439 slash-line as a Phillie. He scored over 100 runs twice, averaged 26 doubles, over 10 triples (leading the league twice) and 25 stolen bases in his Philadelphia career. His best year was 2011 when he had a .847 OPS, 71 points higher than his career OPS. This year, Shane struggled as it became clear that he and the organization were likely going in different directions in the off-season. Victorino always spoke to the media unlike some of his teammates and a majority of the fans have had positive experiences with him. After he was traded, he took out a full-page ad thanking the fans for the support over the years. In an ironic twist, the Dodgers released Bobby Abreu to make room for him after the trade. Again, while he drove me crazy a lot, I’m thankful for his time in Philadelphia. He was a vital cog on the greatest five-year run in Philadelphia Phillies history and I’ll never forget it. Thanks Shane and best of luck in LA!
In other good reading:
Farewell, Shane Victorino by Eric Seidman helped with some of the dates in this story.
Written by: Warren Croxton
Edited by: Mike Orzechowski