Years from now, the answer might be different. But today, on January 30, 2012, when I think back to Pat Burrell's career, here are the 3 things that come to mind first.
Thought #1: It has to be that seventh-inning double in Game 5 of the 2008 World Series. I'll never forget that split-second when I thought the ball was gone, those 30 seconds spent celebrating with my friends, and those 2 minutes of arguing whether he could have had a triple on the play. (Remember, he really stared at it for a while). But that hit - his only one of the series - was clearly the pinnacle of his Phillies career, though his two-homer performance in Game 4 of the NLDS shouldn't get lost in the shuffle by any means.
Thought #2: Confusion as to why Burrell was hailed as a fan favorite over the last couple of years. Even though Burrell did some great things for this organization, anyone who followed the team during the 2000's knows that he was hardly embraced by the fans for most of that time. Sure, he led the parade down Broad Street and everyone talks now like they loved Burrell all along, but when he was hitting .209 in 2003, or when he was committing 10 errors in 2007, the words "Pat Burrell" and "fan favorite" were never ever used in the same sentence. And don't act like you didn't fire some F-bombs every time Burrell raised his arms to take a called third strike on the inside corner.
Thought #3: Man, how Burrell used to kill the Mets early in his career. Only five players in MLB history have hit more home runs against the Mets. Listen to this top 10 of career homers vs. NYM, littered with Hall of Famers, MVPs and, yes, Pat the Bat:
Willie Stargell, 60
Mike Schmidt, 49
Chipper Jones, 48
Willie McCovey, 48
Hank Aaron, 45
PAT BURRELL, 42
Willie Mays, 39
Barry Bonds, 38
Andre Dawson, 36
Billy Williams, 34
And then there are Burrell's career numbers against Armando Benitez: 4-for-11, 3 HRs, 8 RBIs, 5 BBs.
All in all, a very solid player who will always have a special place in my heart. Thanks for all the memories, Pat the Bat.