J.D. Drew's play on the field this past week did nothing to keep Philadelphians from mercilessly, lustily booing him the last couple days, but even if he went 0-for-20 and caught a baby falling from the stands at Citizens Bank Park, he'd still hear it, just 'cuz. Drew, as you may recall, became a permanent fixture in the pantheon of Philadelphia sports fans villains due to his perceived slight of the team back in 1997 when Philadelphia drafted him number one, only to have him sit out a year, re-enter the draft instead of sign with the playoff-deprived team.
Drew's affront, also stoked by then pitcher Curt Schilling's undressing of Drew's agent Scott Boras for attempting to get his player a multi-million dollar deal without ever having a major league at-bat, was one that consistently brings out the worst in Philadelphians. I went to that infamous '99 game, Drew's first appearance as a St. Louis Cardinal, and it was easily the worst-of-the-worst displays of Philadelphia fandom. It wasn't just the battery throwing that was troubling; it was the seeming acceptance for the vociferous hatred that was everywhere, young and old, baseball fan or drunken cretin, who lock-stepped in, as Rick called it, "Brotherly Bile. " The most disturbing display was when two teenage fans unfurled a bedsheet with "J.D. Jew" scrawled on it and showed it off to the Vet Stadium maniacs with gleeful, menacing pride.
Throughout the recent Red Sox series, Drew received similar treatment, with the boos cascading instincitively as soon as he steps into the batter's box. ( The Diamondbacks' Stephen Drew also hilariously gets this treatment.) Drew shrugs it off, always polite, never condemning of the fans, and, yet, it continues. Fine. Everyone's allowed to boo, but, according to a recent Philadelphia magazine article written by Rich Rys, Philadelphia fans should realize that it wasn't J.D. Drew that snubbed Philadelphia — it was the bumbling Philadelphia Phillies front office that snubbed him:
What the Phillies owners want everyone to forget about the J.D. Drew debacle is that it was completely avoidable - before he was drafted, Drew, and Boras, made it clear he expected a staggering $10 million signing bonus. The Phillies figured they could strong-arm the two once Drew was picked. But Wade vs. Boras was an epic mismatch, and although Boras reportedly cut his demand in half, the Phillies refused to go above $2.6 million - right where the league wanted them to stay. Drew ended up in St. Louis, and the Phillies wasted an elite draft pick. Drew's first appearance at Vets Stadium led to the infamous battery-pelting incident, but the fans should have aimed their Duracells at the owners' box.
But, regardless of the truth, the booing of J.D. Drew will continue because he has become the embodiment of Philadelphia's frustration, shame, and title-lessness. It's more symbolic than anything else, but it's also become tiresome. All it does is give more ammunition for all of the out-of-town writers to bring up snowballing Santa Claus, battery throwing, and other isolated incidents of wretchedness that have made Philadelphia trogolydytic fan capital of the United States. It'd be nice if they actually proved them wrong.
The Phantom Five [Philly Mag]