Bill Conlin's Phillies World Series All-Stars

Tug McGraw, Pete Rose and Larry Bowa helped end a long drought and bring the Phillies a World Series title in 1980.
Tug McGraw, Pete Rose and Larry Bowa helped end a long drought and bring the Phillies a World Series title in 1980.
Posted: October 06, 2010

LUCKY ME. IN 1966, my first season as the Phillies beat writer, they were favored to win the National League pennant. Sports Illustrated said so.

They became an even hotter pick on April 21 when GM John Quinn acquired manager Gene Mauch's biggest need - veteran righthanded starting pitching. A solid No. 3 and 4 to buttress aces Jim Bunning and Chris Short.

All it cost Quinn to pry former 24-game winner Larry Jackson and elderly swing man Bob Buhl from the Cubs was an obscure rookie reliever named Ferguson Jenkins, reserve first baseman John Herrnstein and outfield prospect Adolfo Phillips.

John Quinn's elation reminded me of Neville Chamberlain flying home to England after the Munich conference with Adolf Hitler, where the Brit Prime Minister agreed to let Germany annex the Czech half of Czechoslovakia. Hitler promised (wink, wink) he would make no more territorial demands. Chamberlain waved the meaningless piece of paper and proclaimed it to represent "Peace for our time . . . "

I was waiting for John Quinn to proclaim that the Jackson-Buhl trade represented "a pennant for our time."

After the 1965 World Series, Quinn had acquired slugging first baseman Bill White, veteran shortstop Dick Groat and backup catcher Bob Uecker from the Cardinals.

Groat was done. He had the range of a swinging bunt. Uecker was for amusement purposes only. The future Mr. Belvedere perfected many of his selfdeprecating routines on the team bus with Dick Allen as his guffawing audience. White was solid - 22 HR, 103 RBI, great glove. But Buhl was a shipped body, leaving Mauch without a reliable No. 4 starter. Buhl, Ray Culp, 20-year-old Rick Wise and 36-year-old Ray Herbert started 45 games between them and went 18-20. Mauch sarcastically nicknamed closer Darold Knowles, "Fearless."

The favorites limped to an 87-75 record, good for fourth place, despite 54 wins by Bunning, Short and Jackson. Short was 20-10. Allen bombed a career best 40 homers.

I found myself covering a team on the decline that was still a one-night stand. And that night had happened 16 years before in 1950, a season that followed a 35 year drought. Two pennants in 83 years and a 1-8 record in two World Series.

The bleak history was underlined in bold by the 1964 collapse.

Before the 2008 World Series, I cheated. I wrote a piece rating the Phils all-time World Series stars. First, I disqualified the 1915 team and the Whiz Kids as being out of era. Second, I set the field as the 1980, '83, '93 and 2008 Phillies.

Wait a minute? How could I include an '08 team that hadn't played a World Series game? Easy. Nobody was going to be interested in a piece that didn't include the team that had just mauled the Brewers and Dodgers for their sixth all-time pennant.

Well, now I can set that right. The Phillies have actually acquired a workable, comparable historic pedigree to prop the franchise atop. Mike Schmidt's team was excellent from 1975 through 1983, winning the East Division 5.5 times (the .5 is for the 1981 strike-shortened Split Fluffing Season title). They got off the World Series schneid in 1980 and returned to the Fall Classic in '83.

Now we have Charlie's Angels, a team that is on a franchise record roll and one of the great runs in National League history - four straight East titles, gunning for a third straight pennant, playing to SRO crowds a sick number of consecutive games, given the wretched economy.

And standing lonely but proud between the two franchise dynasties are the one-and-done, but, boy, were they a good One, crazies of 1993.

So, today I give you an honest deal. The Phillies modern era World Series All-Star team. No projections or suppositions.

Just the facts, ma'am . . .

(The candidates will be listed in the order of 1980-83, 1993 and 2008-09.)

First Base

Pete Rose, John Kruk, Ryan Howard.

The Big Piece in a runaway: four homers and nine RBI in 44 World Series ABs. And a compelling body of postseason work that includes seven homers, 27 RBI and a solid .271 BA. But a nod to Rose and the way his presence altered the club dynamic from what Dallas Green called "macho cool" to what became "doggedly determined." And Kruk was an on-base machine.

Second Base

Manny Trillo and Joe Morgan, Mickey Morandini, Chase Utley.

Trillo played second like a man auditioning for the Bolshoi Ballet and was a tough, as well. Morandini captained the Harry Kalas All-Pronunciation team. But Utley is simply the best second baseman in franchise history. He fired five homers against the Yankees last October, a Reggie Jackson number. Counting 2008, Utley has pounded seven homers in only 39 ABs, for a stunning ratio of one every 5.6 ABs. He also leads by example and has become one of the best defenders at his position in the majors.

Shortstop

Larry Bowa and Ivan DeJesus, Kevin Stocker, Jimmy Rollins.

Jimmy Rollins was the 2007 MVP and is the best Phillies shortstop of all-time. He has hit 30 homers in a season, led in triples four times, including 20 in 2007, when he collected a rare quadrupledouble with 38 doubles, 20 triples, 41 stolen bases and 30 homers. But his World Series work has been deficient - .222 with no homers and two RBI in 45 Series ABs. Larry Bowa wins this. He hit .375 in a nine-hit 1980 WS and played with his hair on fire throughout.

Third Base

Mike Schmidt, Dave Hollins, Pedro Feliz.

Harry the K used to often slide into a Schmidt at bat with, "Here's Michael Jack Schmidt, the best player in the gaaaaame today . . . " He was the Series MVP in 1980, batting .381 with two key homers, seven RBI and an on-base plus slugging percentage of 1.176. Never mind that he was 1-for-20 against the Orioles in 1983 - after a .467 against the Dodgers in the NLCS.

Catcher

Bob Boone and Bo Diaz, Darren Daulton, Carlos Ruiz.

Dutch once hit .389 in a World Series, but that was for the Marlins in 1997. In 1983, he hit only .217 with a homer and four RBI. The choice is Boone, who hit .412 in '80. He also handled the pitchers superbly. In eight postseason series during his 19-year career, the son of Ray and father of Brett and Aaron, all superb major leaguers, batted .311 in 106 ABs. He also wins an honorary Breeder's Cup. But Chooch made this a very tough call with his 12 hits, five RBI and .353 average in two World Series. In 2008, Ruiz hit .375 with three RBI.

Leftfield

Greg Luzinski and Gary Matthews, Milt Thompson, Pat Burrell and Raul Ibanez.

Bull and Sarge did next to nothing in 1980 and '83 - in fact, Luzinski was 0-for-9 in '80. Milt Thompson had a strong '93 - drove in six runs on five hits and batted .294. Pat Burrell had one hit and one RBI in the 2008 Series - good enough to get him the driver's seat on the Budwagon. This one goes to the Phillies' deposed hitting coach - on merit.

Centerfield

Garry Maddox, Lenny Dykstra, Shane Victorino.

Garry Lee was not the Secretary of Offense. Shane batted .214 with four RBI in 42 WS at-bats. Which brings us to the moral dilemma presented by bankrupt former options trading wizard, The Dude. His 1993 Series was off the charts: .348 with four homers and eight RBI - two homers and four RBI in the 15-14 Game 4 loss to the Blue Jays. The Dude was the quintessential Red Light player. His composite numbers for 32 postseason games here and with the Mets: .321 on 36-for-112 with 27 runs, six doubles, a triple and an astounding 10 homers and 19 RBI for an OPS of 1.094. Lenny wins this. There is no crying in baseball, or drug-testing for mythical All-Star teams.

Rightfield

Bake McBride and Sixto Lezcano, Jim Eisenreich, Jayson Werth.

Bake batted .304 with a homer and five RBI in 1980 and hinted he should have been Series MVP. Nah. Eisie hit only .231, but had a homer and seven RBI. But Werth is the easy winner with a two-WS composite of .351, three homers and six RBI, They followed NLDS and NLCS performances that left his postseason aggregate (including the 2004 NLDS with the Dodgers) at .285 with 11 homers and 20 RBI in 123 ABs.

Starting Pitchers

Steve Carlton, Curt Schilling, Cole Hamels.

Lefty wins this. He . . . was never a Series MVP. But Steve was 2-0 against the Royals with a 2.40 ERA. In 1983, he didn't start until Game 3, but there was a solid reason. He was 2-0 in the Phils' upset of a Dodgers team that had beaten them 11 of 12 games during the regular season. Carlton shut them out, 1-0, in Game 1 and closed them out, 7-2, in Game 4. But this was a close call. Schilling pitched that Game 5 shutout to keep the Phils alive, and Hamels was being compared to the young Carlton for his work in 2008. Last year? Not so good.

Closer

Tug McGraw and Al Holland, Mitch Williams, Brad Lidge.

The Peggy Lee fastball . . . We'll always have that. That's all there was, but it was enough to strike out Willie Wilson and end nearly a century of frustration . . . Lidge dropping to his knees, waiting for Chooch, Ryan Howard about to bellyflop onto the 2008 Dog Pile. They were exquisite moments to savor. To pick one over another would be a disservice to both seminal moments. Tugger and Lights Out walk hand-in-hand into Phillies history. Tie.

Off the Bench

Del Unser and Greg Gross, Mariano Duncan and Pete Incaviglia, Greg Dobbs and Geoff Jenkins.

Jenkins delivered one of the most important pinch-hits in franchise history to begin the endgame of bizarre Game 5 against the Rays.

Managers

Dallas Green, Jim Fregosi, Charlie Manuel.

Four straight division titles and back-to-back pennants say it all for Charlie, who is operating in an expanded postseason environment in which you have to win 11 games to hoist the Commissioners Trophy. He is 20-12 here.

Honorary Memorial Captains

Rich Ashburn, Robin Roberts, Grover Cleveland Alexander.

Honorary Broadcasters

Harry Kalas and Rich Ashburn.

Send e-mail to bill1chair@aol.com.

For recent columns, go to

http://go.philly.com/conlin.

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