Sun. Aug 7th, 2022

By this time, it is well known that Shane Victorino has a flair for dramatics, especially in the postseason. Phillies fans saw it year after year, from the grand slam off of C.C. Sabathia, to the game saving catch in the 2008 NLCS up against the wall, to the infamous beanball showdown with Hiroki Kuroda.
 So it should come as no surprise that the Flyin’ Hawaiian is at it again. On Saturday night, it did not matter that Boston was trailing by a run in the seventh. It did not matter that Victorino was trapped in an 0-2 count. And it certainly did not matter that his bat had been silent to that point-he was just 2-for-23 in the ALCS. None of it mattered when he took Jose Veras’ hanging curveball and skied into the first row of seats above the green monster, giving Boston the lead for good and propelling them into the World Series to take on the Cardinals in a 2004 rematch.
 When the Red Sox won it in 2004, Victorino was not even playing major league baseball. He was hitting .235 with Triple-A Las Vegas. In 2007, when the Red Sox won it again, he was just becoming a mainstay in centerfield for the Phillies. Now, six seasons later, he is leading them to the Fall Classic once more, fresh off his grand slam that will be written forever into the long, storied history of one of America’s most classic teams.
 It has been a career year for Victorino in his debut season with the Red Sox. His .294 average was the highest of his career, and his 15 homers, 61 RBI and .801 OPS the second highest. It came just a year after the 32-year-old seemed to be on the decline, after hitting just .255-the lowest average of his career-between Philadelphia and Los Angeles.
 For the bang the Red Sox got for their buck by acquiring him, it certainly could turn out to be the biggest steal of the year. They paid just $13 million. That’s less money than the Braves paid to Dan Uggla for him to hit less than .180, and the same amount of money (and how ironic is this) that the Phillies paid Jonathan Papelbon for him to be tied for the second most blown saves in 2013.
 That steal might just bring the Red Sox their third title in nine years. In 56 career postseason games, Victorino has hit a respectable .263, but his production numbers are through the roof. He has 56 hits, including seven homers and 38 RBI to go along with 10 stolen bases. If you average that out to a full season’s worth of games, his line would be .263 average, 162 hits, 20 homers, 109 RBI and 28 stolen bases.
 There is no doubt he steps it up in the postseason, and in the highest leverage situations at that. Victorino has now had six at bats with the bases loaded in his postseason career. In those at bats, he is 4-for-6 with two grand slams and 16 RBI. Just think about that for a second. He has had two grand slams but he still has averaged four RBI per hit with the bases loaded. Even his outs are producing runs in those situations.
 Perhaps one of the most interesting and ironic things about Shane Victorino is that the Dodgers (who were ousted in the NLCS) could have had him three different times. That’s right, the Dodgers could have had Victorino in the 2008 and 2009 NLCS against the Phillies, and they could have had him this year against the Cardinals.
 The skipping out on Victorino in his early years was sort of understandable. He was drafted by the Dodgers in 1999 in the entry level draft, and was left unprotected off the 40-man roster. Because of this, in 2002 the Padres selected Victorino in the Rule 5 draft, which means they took him from the Dodgers because the Dodgers had no interest in him.
 Here is where it gets weird. In the Rule 5 draft, the player must be in the major leagues the entire season with his new team. If he is not, he immediately becomes placed on waivers, and any team can select him. This happened to Victorino, except no team wanted him. When that happens, the player has to be offered back to his original team, which in his case was the Dodgers. The Dodgers accepted him back, but a year later he was left unprotected again, and the Phillies took him in the draft.
 He went on to make two All-Star teams and win a World Series with the Phillies before they traded him in 2012 to yes, the Dodgers. This time they could not find room to play him everyday, so instead of making room they just did not renew his contract after the season was over, so he went to Boston.
 Funny how things work, huh?
 It looks like he found a home now, and it is certainly not LA. Victorino might be one of the best examples of Rule 5 draft pick success, and now he is vying to win his second World Series. The similarities to his 2008 postseason are uncanny. He tore it up in the Division Series and struggled in the NLCS before hitting a key home run to help the Phillies into the World Series. This year, it was the same thing with the Red Sox.
 If it is anything like 2008 for the Flyin’ Hawaiian, he will be riding through the city on a float once again, with that wide smile on his face, throwing soft pretzels (or maybe in this case clam chowder) at fans. Teams can change, but some things never do.
 Kenny Ayres is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies with a journalism minor. He can be reached at KA739433@wcupa.edu.

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