As the July 31st trade deadline approached in the middle of the 2012 season, fans throughout Philadelphia had lost some of their love for the Flyin' Hawaiian. Perhaps it stemmed from his statistical drop over the previous season and a half. It may have also come from fans growing tired of his upbeat and, sometimes, over-anxious approach to the game.
Over a year later, it seems the love for Shane Victorino from Phillies fans has made a comeback. That became evident just four nights ago, when the former Philadelphia center fielder hit a seventh inning grand slam that essentially sent the Boston Red Sox back to the World Series. The celebration that followed by Shane mimicked the one he had after his heroic 2008 NLDS Game Two. Any fan that witnessed the Phillies second World Series run distinctly recalls Brett Myers' 9-pitch walk of C.C. Sabathia. Two batters later, Victorino solidified himself into Phillies history with his first postseason grand slam.
While Shane continued to play well going into the next season, it didn't take long before he fell out of favor. While his power numbers steadily jumped, a .292 batting average in 2009 dropped nearly 40 points in each of the next two seasons. As the 2012 season played on, the belief that Flyin' would be headed out became more and more realistic. Finally, on the final day of the trade deadline, the Phillies sent Shane Victorino back to the Los Angeles Dodgers, where they had picked him up from in the Rule 5 Draft.
In the offseason, the Red Sox gave Shane a 3-year deal worth nearly $40 million, a number that fans and analysts alike scoffed at. Boston would turn him into their right fielder, and though no reason has been given as to why (except the way Victorino 'feels'), he also began to bat almost exclusively right-handed. The moves seemed to have worked, bringing Victorino's average back to .294 while continuing his steady streaks of power.
It would seem Shane Victorino's career has been revitalized (or, rejubilated, as he put it). Tonight, he will make his third appearance in the Fall Classic. Not only has he seen his numbers rise once more, but the love for his style of play has returned across the league, as well as in Philly. If you're like me, you're not fond of either team playing in the World Series this evening. However, you can't help but feel a bit of excitement seeing a former fan-favorite return to form.