Shane Victorino is a playoff hero once again, and I’m not entirely sure how Phillies fans should feel about it.
Five years ago, the “Flyin’ Hawaiian” hit a couple of October home runs that will forever live in Phillies lore. On Saturday night, he once again helped lift his team into the World Series with some postseason heroics. But this time, the Phillies were not the team that benefitted from it.
When the Phillies traded Victorino at the 2012 trade deadline, it was considered a prudent move by most pundits. Victorino was having a poor season and was due to become a free agent at season’s end. At age 31, he might have been past his prime, and considering the numerous free agent options thought to be available, many people suspected that they’d be able to adequately replace him.
Victorino had dropped hints that he wanted to return to the Phillies, and I suspect that they viewed him as a backup plan if they were unsuccessful in their pursuit of other players. But the 2013 market didn’t play out how the Phillies expected. Despite a glut of options, free agent outfielders were given unexpectedly rich deals. Once Victorino received a surprising 3 year/$39 million offer from the Red Sox, it was clear that he would not be returning to Philadelphia.
The Phillies eventually filled the centerfield position with Ben Revere. Even though Revere is younger and faster, it’s hard to make a case that he’s better than Victorino. At the very least, it is extremely doubtful that Revere will ever hit a meaningful postseason home run for the Phillies. Heck, it’s becoming doubtful that Revere will ever hit a home run for the Phillies.
But the Phillies made their choice, and Victorino is now a Red Sox hero. Should we be happy for him, or should we feel bitter that he’s having this success for another team?
Personally, I’m happy for him. Victorino never really wanted to leave, and it isn’t a sure thing that him back would have worked out well for either side. Considering his struggles in 2012, maybe he needed a change of scenery. It’s also ridiculous to think that his presence would have lifted the Phillies into the playoffs. It would have just meant one more over-30-year-old player signed to a multi-year deal.
But even as I’m happy for Victorino, it’s a little saddening as a Phillies fan. Watching Victorino triumphantly circle the bases is just another reminder that the glory days for the Phillies seem to be receding farther and farther into the past.