Championships are as much about good planning as they are good luck – as much the result of good general management as they are good management. Baseball decisions must be made on the field as a direct result of personnel and financial decisions made in the front office. The Carpenter Family (headed by R.R.Ms son “Bob” and grandson “Ruly”) owned and operated the Phillies since taking over in 1943. Their efforts finally came to fruition in 1980 after failed postseason appearances in 1976, 1977 and 1978 just in time for the Carpenter family to sell their interest in the Phillies by 1981.
Front office changes weren’t the only ones in store during the 1976-1983 run. Dismissing longtime friend and manager Danny Ozark became necessary in August 1979 (1,105 wins still ranks best in Phillies history). Anointing Paul Owens “Pope” of Player/Personnel Development and General Manager changed the course of the floundering franchise. Bringing in fiery no nonsense Dallas Green to manage in 1980 after dropping to fourth place in 1979 turned a talented collection of players into one of the most heart-wrenching teams in sports history.
By 1983 Owens took over as field manager for the second time (1972) having fired manager Pat Corrales (who’d been hand-picked by Green when he left in 1981). Owens got his team to the World Series in 1983 only to lose to the Baltimore Orioles.
The team would only see the postseason once more (losing the 1993 World Series to Toronto after a spirited NL pennant run) from 1984-2006. In 2007 the Phillies won their first divisional championship (89 wins) by one game only to be swept out of the NLDS by upstart Colorado. That experience would serve them well in preparation for what would become the franchise’s second world championship in 28 years (a far sight better than the 97 years it took for the first one) which happened the following season.
From 2007-2010 the team would win four straight divisional titles, two NL pennants, lose one NLCS and win one championship en route to progressively impressive win totals (89, 92, 93 and 97). 2011 finds them with the best record in baseball (68-39) and one of the gold standard MLB franchises. Retired GM Pat Gillick has been inducted to the MLB Hall of Fame, Ruben Amaro is one of the most respected GM in the game and Charlie Manuel (1,078-611, .567 win percentage) ranks in the top 20 for all-time and active managers with a .559 win percentage. His .567 win % over 6-1/2 seasons in Philadelphia puts him among the best in baseball. He passed Danny Ozark (594) among Phillies managers in all-time wins (614) and now trails only Gene Mauch (646) and Harry Wright (636).
Every team, every season is unique but baseball is a sport of rich and celebrated history. Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Similarities and comparisons are made between championship teams and the Phillies have their own noir-ish parallel.
Future Hall of Famer Joe Morgan hit 16 HR during the 1983 regular season (at age 39). Morgan capped a brilliant career, opting to play one more season in an effort to win another championship (1975 & 1976 championships in Cincinnati along with 1972, 1973, 1979 and 1980 NLCS experience – the latter coming with Houston against Philadelphia) and he joined former teammates and Reds defectors Pete Rose and Tony Perez in Philadelphia. Raul Ibanez had never sniffed the postseason prior to signing with Philadelphia in 2009 – despite playing 13 years with Seattle and Kansas City. Now that he has 32 postseason games including going 6 games in the 2009 World Series, Ibanez has 16 HR at the age of 39 in 2011 – which may prove to be his final shot at a championship. Ibanez was hitting below the Mendonza line (.200) as late in the season as May 15 but has rebounded to a .245 BA with 60 RBI and 95 hits on the year.
Circa 1980 Marty Bystrom was brought up from AAA and posted a 5-0 record (1.50 ERA, 0.972 WHIP in 36 IP) for the month of September. Bystrom (10 IP in 1980 postseason) and fellow rookie Bob Walk (11-7, 4.57 in 152 IP) combined for 17 IP in NLCS and World Series…. and it was Walk who started Game 1 of the 1980 World Series (won after 7 IP). Vance Worley has gone 7-1 with a 2.02 ERA in 71 IP, notching his first complete game in 2011 and bolstering this pitching staff in the absence of Roy Oswalt and Joe Blanton.
While the 1980 championship team was augmented by the additions of Tug McGraw (Dec. 1974 traded from NY Mets for Mac Scarce, John Stearns and Del Unser who returned to play for the 1980 Phillies), Bake McBride (6/17/1977 traded from St. Louis for Rick Bosetti, Dane Iorg and Tom Underwood), Greg Gross (2/21/1979 traded with Manny Trillo from Chicago Cubs for Henry Mack, Derek Bothello, Jerry Martin, Barry Foote and Ted Sizemore) and Pete Rose (1979 free agent signing after 15 seasons in Cincinnati), they were built upon the foundation of home-grown talent.
It has been the Art of the Deal balanced with the fruits of the modern day farm system for the 21st Century Phillies and their exciting Renaissance.
Trading deadline rewards have become progressively more impressive, starting with Jamie Moyer (Aug. 19, 2006 from Seattle for Andrew Barb and Andy Baldwin), Joe Blanton (July 17, 2008 from Oakland for Josh Outman, Adrien Cardenas & Matt Spencer) and Kyle Lohse (July 30, 2007 from Cincinnati for Matt Maloney) and progressing toward Cliff Lee (7/29/2009 along with Ben Francisco from Clevelenad for Carlos Carrasco, Lou Marson, Jason Donald & Jason Knapp), Roy Oswalt (7/29/2010 from Houston for JA Happ, Anthony Gose & Jonathan Villar) and most recently from Houston Hunter Pence (7/29/2011 for Jonathan Singleton, Jarred Cosart, Josh Zeid & PTBNL).
While not the 1971 quartet of 20-game winners for the Baltimore Orioles, these Four Aces in 2011 have managed to be impressive despite the stratospheric predictions. Cole Hamels (12-6, 2.61, 140 K in 152 IP, WHIP 0.961) may be en route to his first Cy Young along with Roy Halladay (13-4, 2.44 ERA, 1.01 WHIP), Cliff Lee (10-7, 3.14 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, featuring three straight shutouts in June) and Roy Oswalt (4-6, 3.79 ERA in 13 limited starts – but 11-7 with a 2.75 ERA overall as a Phillie in 26 games over one calendar year).
The 1980 Phillies had legendary future Hall of Famer Steve Carlton (4 Cy Young Awards including 24-9 record with 2.34 ERA in 38 starts, 286 strikeouts in 304 IP, 13 CG, 3 SHO and 1.095 WHIP) along with Dick Ruthven (17-10, 3.55), Larry Christansen (5-1, 4.03 ERA in 14 starts) and a slew of patchwork no-names on their staff.
By 1983 an aging Carlton (15-16, 3.11 ERA in 37 starts, 275 strikeouts in 283 IP) got help from NL Cy Young Award winner John Denny (19-6, 2.37 ERA and 243 IP in 36 starts) along with rookie midseason callups Kevin Gross (4-6, 3.56 in 17 starts) and Charles Hudson (8-8, 3.35 ERA in 26 starts). The 1993 Phillies may have had the most balanced starting rotation – even if only for a year. That squad was led by Curt Schilling (16-7, 4.02 ERA, 186 K in 235 IP), Danny Jackson (12-11, 3.77, 32 starts, 210 IP), Tommy Greene (16-4, 3.42 ERA) and Terry Mulholland (12-9, 2.35). Never has there been a force like the Four Aces plus Vance Worley (or Joe Blanton).
Don’t forget such post-deadline deals requiring players to clear waivers – including Matt Stairs (Aug. 30, 2008 from Toronto for PTBNL – Fabio Castro), Jeff Conine (2007), Mike Sweeney (2010) and Tad Iguchi (42 hits in 45 games playing for the injured Chase Utley after being acquired July 27, 2007 for Michael Dubee). Scott Eyre (8/7/2008 from Chicago Cubs for Brian Schlitter) and JC Romero (6/22/2007 signed as free agent after being released by Boston Red Sox) were afterthought additions to a bullpen bereft of “portsiders.” Chad Durbin was a December 2007 free agent signing having played with 4 teams in 6 years previously. Geoff Jenkins (signed Dec. 2007) was also a contributor to the 2008 championship.
Offseason deals include the Roy Halladay blockbuster (Kyle Drabek, Travis D’Anard, Michael Taylor to Toronto) prior to the 2010 Cy Young Award season or the Cliff Lee re-signing via free agency. Brad Lidge (acquired along with Eric Bruntlett from Houston for Geoff Geary, Michael Bourn, Mike Costanzo) became a huge deal in the offseason prior to saving 41 of 41 games en route to the 2008 championship. Prior to the 1983 season, the Phillies landed some veteran help in Joe Morgan & Al Holland (traded from SF Giants for Mike Krukow, Mark Davis & Charles Penigar), Tony Perez (free agent signee January 1983), Gary Matthews (1983 NLCS MVP after posting .258 BA, 10 HR, 50 RBI in regular season), Bo Diaz (three way deal with St. Louis and Cleveland costing the Phillies Lonnie Smith and Scott Munninghoff) and John Denny (won the Cy Young Award going 19-6, 2.37 ERA and 243 IP in 36 starts). Denny may have been the coup d’état as he was traded in September 1982 from Cleveland in exchange for Wil Culmer, Jerry Reed and Roy Smith.
Much like the 1980 championship team, the 2008 team was led by a core of homegrown talent. In the 1970s and 1980 it was Greg Luzinski, Larry Bowa, Bob Boone, Dick Ruthven, Larry Christiansen and Mike Schmidt who had grown up together since the low minors. Keith Moreland, Bystrom, Walk and Lonnie Smith were Phillies farmhands who joined the club along with imports like Garry Maddox (1975 trade from SF Giants for Willie Montanez), Steve Carlton (1972 trade from St. Louis Cardinals for Rick Wise) and Ron Reed (Dec. 1975 trade from St. Louis for Mike Anderson) were integrated into the team over years. The 2008 generation forged names like Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Pat Burrell, Cole Hamels, Carlos Ruiz, Ryan Madson, Brett Myers and Ryan Howard into Philadelphia’s memory. Shane Victorino (Rule 5 Draft 2006 from San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers organization), Jayson Werth (2006 free agent reclamation project salvaged after years with Baltimore, Toronto and Los Angeles Dodgers) and Brad Lidge were engineered transactions courtesy Pat Gillick & Co.
Time will tell if this offensive arsenal balanced with the most impressive arms race since the disbanding of the USSR will result in the Phillies second world championship over 4 years. With 108 games played (54 remaining) the true test may not come until the Phillies exact revenge for a 2010 NLCS exit. Whoever the opponent, the Phillies .636 winning percentage gives them the edge over their regular season competition. In the postseason, short series are usually dominated by starting pitching and clutch hitting. Can this team add Hunter Pence to Howard, Utley, Rollins and Victorino while reclaiming injury projects Brad Lidge, Placido Polanco, Roy Oswalt and Ryan Madson? Michael Stutes, Antonio Bastardo and Juan Perez have bolstered the bullpen while supersubs Wilson Valdez, Michael Martinez and Brian Schneider have earned their stripes. The only weakness seems to be the bench where names like Gload, Francisco, Mayberry and and Domonic Brown will look to find a role. Adding Pence to an outfield of Ibanez and Victorino may indeed have been the lynchpin move at the trading deadline but finding a way for the team to play together is the secret to every successful championship team.
About the Author
Written by Christopher Rowe
Contributing writer Comcast Sports, NY Times contributing stringer 1996-2000, Contributing writer Yahoo Sports (2001 World Series). Contributing writer Newsday Long Island (1992-1994, Jets Training Camp) and Newak Star Ledger. Freelance Copywriter, Editor/Founder Atlantic Times Weekly (1993-2003) fantasy football magazine, produced screenwriter and general humorist. Hofstra University grad, Marist College honorary alum, Salesian; Purveyor of the Value and Valor of Philadelphia Eagles 1960 NFL Championship; Adrent believer that Eagles could have won Super Bowl XV...and Super Bowl XXXIX...plus modern decade of Eagles 5 NFC Championships... Believer in the Broad Street Bullies and the 1983 Sixers... Witness to Philadelphia Phillies World Series championships 1980 & 2008, Suffered Phillies first pro sports team to reach 10,000 losses,witnessed "1980 Cardiac Kids," 1983 "Wheeze Kids," 1993 "Macho Row" and many, many, many not-so-memorable seasons in-between... until the Philadelphia Baseball Renaissance of 21st Century, Five NL East division titles 2007-2011, 3 NLCS appearances 2008-2010, 2 consecutive World Series berths 2008 & 2009. 2008 World Champions of baseball [miss ya Harry and Richie]; "collector" of MLB ballparks (42 stadiums including 15 which are gone); Fantasy Football & Baseball player since 1992. Always a sports fan... Tenui Nec Dimittam Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org