The Phillies Must Release Barajas;<br> Rod looks back and laughs

by Mike Cunningham

"For Who? For What?" -- Ricky Watters 1995

"For Who? My Teammates. For What? To Win." -- Aaron Rowand 2006

"Since we won the game, we can look back and laugh at some of those plays.' -- Rod Barajas, 2007

The typical Phillies fan reaction is always a KNEE JERK reaction. Or perhaps it's just a reaction from a bunch of jerks. This is a standard Philadelphia response which resonates much more now, 27 years since the last Phillies World Championship, 14 years since the last playoff appearance and 24 years since ANY championship in this town. So when Rod Barajas fails to make a tag at home plate on the DECIDING play in a game against NL East rivals, Florida Marlins, by standing up to avoid a collision, this town will jerk it's knee very fast.

Earlier in the inning a mental mistake from utility infielder Greg Dobbs kept the fateful 9th inning alive. But he is quickly forgiven because he's performed an admirable job, filling in for the reigning MVP. Not that we would forget Ryan Howard as he rehabs his quadriceps and knee, however, Dobbs' peformance this year has earned him Jim Eisenreich status. That's high praise. And further, you can't beat a guy who apologizes for making that mistake:

"I'm praying I didn't aid in Brett being out for a long time. I'm sick to my stomach. I want to go over to him, but I can't even talk to him right now. I'm praying to God he's going to be OK."

Philadelphians will respond to that. Because after that brutal ninth that saw the Myers threw 2 pitches two many. We felt the same way.

While Dobbs made a huge mental mistake, it was not one of the worst blunders in Phillies history. Rod Barajas was brought in as insurance for Carlos Ruiz who was given the mantle of starting catcher. It was a controversial signing since many fans thought Chris Coste had deserved this shot. But Pat Gillick wanted someone who caught more major league baseball games than Coste to mentor Ruiz. So a catcher with veteran experience played last night like he had none. Standing up when he should have stayed down and placed a high tag on Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez was ruled safe and the Marlins tied the game. Had Barajas remain planted, holding the ball where you are taught to hold the ball, the game would have been over. And Myers wouldn't have had to face the next batter. That next batter could have been the last batter he faces for the rest of the year.

Myers felt a twinge in his tricep, then his arm exploded on the next wild pitch. This is nearly EXACTLY what happened to Tom Gordon earlier in the year. One batter too long. This time I won't blame Manuel. Although, he probably shouldn't have had Myers start the 9th with a four run lead. Myers was overthrowing the whole innning. His last appearance in Florida looked pretty much the same way. That was Myers last start.

Myers who had been pitching virtually lights out in the bullpen. If he got himself into a jam, he got himself out. And the reason the Phillies were able to play over .600 ball to climb back to .500 had as much to do with Bret Myers than anything else. And now as we sit at even on the year awaiting the MVP, there is no Myers to close. And you can blame Rod Barajas for that.

Reminiscent of Ricky Watters, Barajas when asked about the significance of last night's play he responded:

"Since we won the game, we can look back and laugh at some of those plays.'

And that tells you everything you need to know about the man. Here in Philadelphia we know a lot of about sacrificing their bodies for the good of their team. Aaron Rowand did just that last year. And we had 2 catchers sacrifice long careers and worse active middle-age, with horrific knee injuries blocking the plate. I'm talking about Darren Daulton and Mike Lieberthal. Lieberthal that much maligned catcher had terrible knees (once after a collision at the plate in 96 and second in 2001 after spinning to return to first base on a pick off.) Even though he had those bad knees, I never saw Leiberthal ONCE... avoid a collision at home plate. Not once.

For many of us, we forget that Lieberthal caught more games than any other Phillie in history on some beat up knees. Here in Philadelphia we can be jerks about people's knees.

But that shouldn't stop our knee jerk reaction in asking the Phillies, no demanding, the Phillies eat the $2.5 salary of Rod Barajas immediately.

For Who? The Fans.

For What? Our states of minds.


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