Friday, March 03, 2006

No. 53...Larry Bowa

A computer crash killed my complete review of the Phillies 6-3 victory over the Yankees yesterday - I'm not happy about it, but maybe it's for the best. Maybe the crash was a way of telling me to quit writing so much about a relatively meaningless exhibition baseball game. Oh well.

This was in yesterday's Inquirer and it absolutely deserves a mention - Larry Bowa has all kinds of flaws both as a person (don't we all?) and as a manager, but I still feel pride when people associate his personality with that of a typical Philly sports fan. He is one of us - a bit too loud, extremely passionate, a tad overbearing at times, and just so emotionally invested in the game that sometimes it seems as if nothing else matters. Anyway, here is the whole spark that got this whole Bowa lovefest going:

When Larry Bowa became the New York Yankees third-base coach, they told him he could have any number he wanted.

As long as it was in the 50s. And as long as it wasn't 51 because that belonged to Bernie Williams.

Bowa looked at the list of linebackers' numbers and decided on 53. It wasn't the familiar 10 he wore when he played for and managed the Phillies. And it wasn't the 2 he wore when he was the Phils' third-base coach.

But there something about 53 that appealed to him.

"I knew it was Bobby Abreu's number, so I took it," Bowa said.

Even though he has been removed from the organization for more than a year, and now wears the most famous uniform in sports, Bowa remains a Phillie deep down inside. You can hear it in his voice and see it on his back, with his little homage to his former rightfielder.

"I'll always be a Phillie," said Bowa, sunburned and looking for an aspirin after coaching third base for 54 outs in an intrasquad game Tuesday. "I came up with the Phillies. I won a World Series with them. The most success I had in my career came with them.

Larry Bowa wearing 53 at least in part to honor Bobby Abreu...that's pretty damn cool. By the way, I'm just going to glaze over the negative parts of the article. You know, the parts where Bowa says he has no hard feelings towards the Phils over his firing and that he didn't take it personally - I think from reading the article it seems pretty clear to me that he absolutely took his dismissal personally and is still bitter enough to very quickly offer up a litany of excuses as to why things didn't work out in Philadelphia. But today is Friday and baseball is back, so it makes sense to be positive. Here's some more of those good vibes to close things out...

From talking to Bowa, it's pretty clear that shortstop Jimmy Rollins and second baseman Chase Utley remain two of his favorites. Both will play in Tampa today. Abreu is not expected to play.

"Jimmy's as good as anyone in baseball at catching the ball," Bowa said. "He's got great skills. And the second baseman is something special. Those two guys play the way you're supposed to. They take constructive criticism and learn from it.

"And Bobby's a great player. He makes everything look easy, and that frustrates people sometimes. Some people say he's a selfish player. But even if you're a selfish player, it's tough putting up those numbers."


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