Has it been 12 days since the Phillies won the World Series?
It has, and it still feels as if life hasn't been the same since Brad Lidge threw Eric Hinske that 0-2 slider to win it all at Citizens Bank Park. If life hasn't returned to normal for the average Phillies fan, imagine what life has been like for Pat Burrell, who has been in town for most of the last 12 days, including last night when he and Cole Hamels were on the field for the coin toss for the Eagles-Giants game at Lincoln Financial Field.
"We have to leave town in the next couple days," Burrell said about he and his wife, Michelle. "I wish I could stay and hang out. It's been pretty fun. People say, 'You won't pay for a dinner here for the next 10 years.' Well, that's actually been true. I've really been able to get a feel for how excited people are in the city. To be able to walk around and say, 'We won it. We did it. Through all the stuff, we actually went ahead and did it.' It's just a proud feeling."
As everybody knows, Burrell, the team's first pick in the 1998 June amateur draft and the longest tenured player in a Phillies uniform, is a free agent. The Phillies have two other major free agents: lefthanders Jamie Moyer and Scott Eyre. The Phillies have contacted both, but as of last night Burrell said he hasn't heard from the Phillies.
"You never know what's going to happen," Burrell said. "I think it's been very clear that I want to stay, and they know that. But at the same time, I don't know what the direction of the organization is. Either way, I've got nothing but positive things and thanks to say to the organization for my time here. And obviously, this past couple weeks has been the end of it all. I want to be back, but I don't know what's going to happen."
The Phillies have exclusive negotiating rights with Burrell through Friday, but at the moment his return seems less likely unless the length of the contract or amount of money is attractive to the Phillies. First, the Phillies have money they probably want to allocate elsewhere. Second, they also might want to get younger and more athletic in left field.
"With the way that they've structured things in the organization with payroll and stuff, there are some issues there that I think are important," Burrell said. "They've got to do what they think is best for the franchise. They're in the position to do whatever they need to do now, and I understand."
Burrell said his having not heard from the Phillies doesn't concern him.
"No, because sometimes with these situations there are agents and all this other stuff that gets involved," he said.
What about a hometown discount?
"When the situation comes up I'll address it then," he said. "Who knows if that's even something that's going to go on? I think I'm at the point in my career with this organization that they're going to have no problem being honest with me and telling me what they want to do. As a player, that's all you want. You'd rather it be that way. I can certainly handle the truth."
What does his gut tell him?
"My gut tells me that it would be great to be here," he said with a smile.
These issues will sort out themselves in the coming weeks. Still, no matter what happens, Burrell always will be remembered for ripping that leadoff double off the left-center field wall in the seventh inning in Game 5, which set up the winning run against the Tampa Bay Rays. He also will be remembered as the man who led the Phillies' parade down Broad Street.
But until he leaves town, he will continue to receive congratulations from anybody and everybody.
"What's up, man? Congrats," Donovan McNabb said on the field before the game.
Even if Burrell's future life is not in Philadelphia, his life will never be the same because of Philadelphia.
"When you see the effect you can have on a city like we have had, it's just incredible," he said.