My wife will be the first to tell you that I hate Pat Burrell. Long before he was on the Giants she had heard all about how he was firmly ensconced in my top 5 Least Favorite Players list. In many ways he seems harmless (I mean no one is going to confuse this guy with Barry Bonds), but in so many ways he was easy to hate.
Pat Burrell is the jock in high school that could play basketball all winter for a team that makes a run at state, walk off the court and on to a baseball field and hit a home run on his first swing. He’s the guy that just stole your girlfriend. He’s bigger, stronger, better looking, and has more money than you.
He also grew up on the central coast of California, went to Bellarmine (a quasi-rival of my high school alma mater), attended one of the least likeable Universities in the USA (Miami), was the top pick in the draft, and then killed the Giants EVERY time the Phillies came to town. EVERYTIME.
Plus there was something about his game that was aggravating. He struck out a lot. On bad pitches. He hit hanging sliders a long way. He was terrible in the outfield. He was a dead pull power hitter. His game was all brawn and no brain.
And then he came to the Giants. Again, my wife will tell you how I cursed the computer up and down when I read about that transaction. I hated that Pat Burrell was on the Giants. I hated that my favorite player to boo and tell about how much he sucked was now wearing Orange and Black. And I hated that I knew…knew in the depths of my soul…that I would end up loving him.
Which is exactly what happened. For the 202 games he was a Giant I would say, in almost every game, “I hate Pat Burrell” as he swung and missed at a slider in the dirt, only to proclaim my love for him when he hit a home run or game breaking double later on.
He didn’t do much in the playoffs (especially the World Series), but the Giants don’t win a championship without him. I also begrudgingly admired his strike zone discipline and ability to take a walk. I’ve never had to flip-flop so strongly on a player before.
But Pat Burrell helped the Giants win a World Series. It’s perfect. I love you Pat Burrell, enjoy retirement.