For Drew, freezing in Philly

August 10, 1999|By Ken Rosenthal

PHILADELPHIA -- What John Elway is to Baltimore, J. D. Drew is to Philadelphia.

And last night, the City of Brotherly Love couldn't wait to shower its unique brand of affection upon Drew, in the form of epithets and banners, and perhaps coins and batteries, too.

Drew got off relatively easy, sitting out with a bruised hand. But not even teammate Mark McGwire will volunteer to serve as his bodyguard for this three-game series.

"Absolutely not," the 6-foot-5, 250-pound McGwire said at his pre-game news conference. "No, thank you."

McGwire was smiling -- he had told the Phillies' Curt Schilling at the All-Star Game that he looked forward to visiting Philadelphia, knowing that the fans would have another agenda.

At times during batting practice, Drew was smiling, too.

St. Louis Cardinals bullpen catcher Jeff Murphy wore Drew's No. 7 jersey, deeming it "a social experiment." Drew adopted the Albert Belle look, wearing a red pullover with no name on the back.

Nice try, kid.

The thousands of fans who gathered early to watch McGwire take BP identified Drew from the moment he stepped into the cage, and proceeded to give him the Santa Claus treatment.

"Got more where that came from!" one fan shouted after the first round of boos.

"Hey, Ed Wade," another yelled to the Phillies' general manager. "You done good."

It got uglier after the Cardinals' 12-6 win, with fans spitting at Drew as he walked off the field after congratulating his teammates, according to a Veterans Stadium security guard.

Drew apparently was not hit, and remained in good spirits after the game, perhaps sensing that he had survived Round 1.

And you thought Philadelphia gave Donovan McNabb a rude welcome.

Just imagine if McNabb refused to sign with the Eagles after getting selected No. 2, won the right to re-enter the NFL draft and then returned to Veterans Stadium as a visiting player.

Those were Drew's crimes exactly.

Drew's saga is reminiscent of Elway refusing to play for the late Robert Irsay and forcing the Baltimore Colts to trade him to the Denver Broncos.

It also is reminiscent of NHL star Eric Lindros forcing the Quebec Nordiques to trade him to the Philadelphia Flyers, but you'll get a cheese steak in the face if you remind anyone in Philly 'bout dat.

Drew, 23, didn't force a trade, but his agent, the ever-popular Scott Boras, manipulated the draft rules, then secured him an $8.5 million contract after the Cardinals selected him fifth.

"Gree D. Drew," read one sign last night.

"Pay $8 million. Hit .260. Nice investment," read another.

A crowd of 46,102 attended last night's game, but was disappointed on three fronts -- the Phillies lost, McGwire failed to homer for the fifth straight game and Drew never left the bench.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said he considered using Drew as a late-inning substitute, but decided against it with most of the crowd gone and the score lopsided.

"I think it would have been a weak move," La Russa said.

Drew, a quiet, unassuming type, said all the right things at a pre-game news conference, referring to his contract dispute with the Phillies as "in the past," but bracing for jeers nonetheless.

"Some of the statements made when you're in the outfield are pretty original," said Drew, who has been booed in other National League cities. "You get some laughs out of some of them."

Drew certainly tried to have fun during BP, smiling at some of the more clever taunts near the cage, then repeatedly dropping balls in the outfield to draw applause.

Just before the first pitch, the Phillie Phanatic parked in front of the Cardinals' dugout and attached three white money bags, each marked by large red dollar signs, to his all-terrain vehicle.

Alas, Cardinals third base coach Rene Lachemann removed the bags and ran into the Cardinals' dugout before the Phanatic could complete his stunt.

There's always tonight.

Dick Young, the late New York sportswriter, once wrote that fans should "stand up and boo" Doc Gooden upon his return from drug rehabilitation.

Schilling, the Phillies' ace, issued basically the same plea yesterday, urging fans to come at Drew with "both barrels" in comments that were published by both Philadelphia dailies.

"This is this city's payback time," said Schilling, an outspoken critic of Drew. "I'd be gravely disappointed if there wasn't some verbal offering of opinion. People in this city live for this.

"When you say, `Philly fans,' people know exactly what you're talking about. This will be a defining moment for them."

To which La Russa replied: "I think Schilling has said more than enough. I don't think the fans need to be incited any more than they already have. Schilling has already made his position clear before, several times over."

And yesterday, he made it clear again.

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