Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Shane Victorino: One Man’s Journey to the 2011 All Star Game

There were seasons when I thought Shane Victorino being voted onto the All Star Team was as elusive as the World Series ring is to Jim Thome. But then in 2009, I received a voicemail message from him asking me to vote for him. And then I saw him on television, going door-to-door asking people to vote for him like a politician. Only more genuine and more likely to keep his promise. The Flyin’ Hawaiian was pushing to get a spot on the All Star Team. He did get the spot -- the “final spot,” the last minute, do-or-die spot on the roster.

And here we are again in 2011 saturated by Phillies Nation with campaigning to vote for Victorino. But why? It seems as though everyone likes this man (except, quite possibly, for that fan in Chicago who threw beer on him and Hiroki Kuroda). We have many excellent reasons to adore him. He’s been an active supporter of the Boys and Girls Clubs for as long as we’ve known his name. He hustles on the field and always gives 100%. He chats it up with everyone on and off the field. He probably talks to the lightbulb in his refrigerator. He always seems to be having a darn tootin’ good time. When his parents visit Philadelphia, they bring pineapples to the team for crying outloud. A friend at CSN tells me he’s a heck of a nice guy, very humble and always helps people plan their trips to Hawaii. I’m trying to dislike him, but as I look over at a bobblehead of him in a grass skirt wearing a lei, I just can’t not like him. He just has that certain je nais se quoi. But what do we really know about him?

He will be 31 on November 30. He has spent the bulk of his career with the Phillies and started as number 18. When he replaced Aaron Rowand in CF, the “1” was dropped and we have since known him as number 8. He has one World Series ring. Three Gold Glove Awards. One Lou Gehrig Memorial Award. The Philadelphia Sports Writers Association named him their 2010 “Humanitarian of the Year.” Even at that dinner I saw him chatting it up with anyone who made eye contact with him. He is married with two kids. In the off season, he lives in Las Vegas. He claims it is for the climate and not the party scene. In high school, he was a track and field champ.

I would love to avoid statistics, but in baseball, it really is not possible. Since 2007, Shane has ranked in the top 10 for stolen bases in the NL. As a matter of fact, in 2010, he was 3rd in the NL. In 2009, aka his only All Star year, he ranked 8th in the NL with 181 hits and 7th in the NL with 102 runs.

This season, Victorino ranks 6th in the NL for batting average (of outfielders) and 9th in OBP. As recently as Sunday, he has 12 doubles, nine triples, nine HR, 34 RBIs, 13 stolen bases and 52 runs scored.

Yet, here we find ourselves again, pushing last minute votes to get Victorino into the All Star Game. He is competing with Andre Ethier, Todd Helton, Ian Kennedy and Michael Morse for the final NL spot. He recently partnered with Victor Martinez of the AL to vote “Victor Victorino” for the final spots on the All-Star Game roster. The Phillies are sweetening the deal for fans to keep him in first place by offering a drawing for those voting at least 100 times to win a chance to meet Victorino, two tickets to a Phillies game and a signed Victorino jersey. He is currently leading the NL, but on Tuesday saw Randy Culp, M.D., the hand specialist. Victorino was diagnosed with a Grade 1 sprain and whether he returns to the field or the DL remains to be seen. If he joins the All Star team, he will be in good company with Placido Polanco, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels.

You can vote for Victorino by clicking here:

No comments:

Post a Comment