I got in a discussion over the weekend about the Ibanez Phenomena. It started because my friend, who’s been a Phillies fan all his life, said “I’ve never seen us get behind a player so fast and so strongly.” This, I definitely agree with. I’ve tallied up quite a few “Welcome Raul” signs around Queen Village, no less. You have to earn your stripes to be loved in Philadelphia, but production is the No. 1 way into Phillie fans’ hearts. Production, Raul has more than plenty.
My friend went on to say it was something more than that, however, and I’d have to agree. Although his lame argument that Donovan has produced and the city doesn’t love him was like an open door for me to scream, “Are you kidding me?” I steered clear of cross-sport contamination and focused on Raul. It helps that Ibanez knew how to play to the crowd before he every donned a Phils uniform, saying he had watched the World Series and saw the passion and wanted to be a part of it. Love the fans, they love you back (usually).
But he had to come to the City of Brotherly Love and swing for the fences. Which he has. And carry his weight on defense. Which he has. And hustle like it’s his job. Which he has (and which, technically, it is). He plays like he loves the game, like he wants to win and like it matters. Everything we love Dawkins and Aaron Rowand for.
Now if he came here and was all those things except was batting like Rollins, would we still welcome Raul?