Peter Abraham over at the Globe caught wind of an interesting editorial in the Philidelphia Inquirer.
It's been more than 13 years since J.D. Drew decided he'd rather slum it in St. Paul, Minn., than play for the Phillies," the article reads. "Drew's contract with the Boston Red Sox is up after this season, and he's not sure if he's going to come back next season - to Boston or to baseball."
A fairly civil beginning. And for all but the last sentence, it remains that way. But then we get this:
"You'll get one more chance to let J.D. know how you feel about him when the Sox come to town June 28-30. Get your D-cells ready."
The Inquirer printed an editor's note apologizing for the event, but really I'm not so much interested that one writer had his brain shut off for a minute. Do I think Furman is really looking to rally the Duracell troops for one last great assault on Drew? No, he's just looking for a snappy finish to a section of his article, and he stopped thinking for a moment.
What fascinates me is the whole long J.D. Drew saga with Philadelphia. I cannot for the life of me understand the amount of hate he receives from the Philadelphia fans.
Did he snub them in the '97 draft? Sort of, yes. He did go to play in the independent leagues before signing with the Cardinals, but it's not like he ever acted in bad faith. He and Scott Boras made their demands perfectly clear before the draft, and the Phillies assumed he was bluffing and drafted him anyways, entirely unwilling to come anywhere near his demands.
It's even more amazing that Drew is so reviled for this when put in historical context. The no. 2 pick that came directly before J.D. Drew was one Travis Lee, a first baseman whose career highlight could be being traded for Curt Schilling. Lee was one of a number of '96 draftees who took advantage of an antiquated rule that let a player become a free agent if he was not tendered a contract within 15 days of the draft. He went on to sign a $10 million contract, setting the market for J.D. Drew.
In today's drafts, things like this happen all the time. Free agents make their demands known, and are either passed on entirely or allowed to drop to the lower rounds to be picked up by one of the richer teams as a "signability pick." When one team acts without actually thinking about their ability or willingness to sign a player at the price he's setting, then why is it that the player is blamed? At worst, he should be treated like any other free agent who was never on the Phillies, and chose to go elsewhere when offered more money.
Sorry, Philly fans. But you've been hating the wrong person for these past 14 years. Maybe you should turn your attention--if not D-cell batteries--to Lee Thomas, the man who didn't pay him?