Monday, February 11, 2013

February 11- Philadelphia Phillies

This post is in dedication to Edith Houghton, the first female scout in Major League Baseball who worked for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1946-1952. It was pure chance that I threw on my Phillies cap today.
Chew and mullet in tact!

1993 was a year packed with adversity. I was a plucky fourth grader, learning the harsh reality that some teachers truly are witches, the Oakland Athletics finished the season with the worst record in the American League (68-94) and the film Jurassic Park made me believe that velocitraptors were lurking behind every closed door in my house. Needless to say, it was one of my worst years in existence. On the other side of the country things were rockin’ in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Phillies had struck the final blow of my wasted year by fending off my Montreal Expos for the National League Eastern Division title before dropping a 104-win Atlanta Braves squad in the NLCS; paving the way for their first World Series appearance since they lost to the Baltimore Orioles in 1983, the year I was born.

On the bright side of the MLB season, the San Francisco Giants won 103 games (tied for the most season wins in SF with the 1962 team), but failed to make the playoffs as a result of the Wild Card not being added until 1995. Too bad (sarcastic sad face). Despite the ups and downs of what went on in my life, 1993 proved to be quite the memorable year. And the thing I remember most… is the mullets. If hair growing and styling was somehow factored into the power rankings for MLB teams, the 1993 Phillies would be in the Top 3 along with the 1972-74 Athletics and any team which suited up Oscar Gamble and/or Ross Grimsley.

Having gone on long enough about what I personally remember from 1993, I suppose I should talk about the hat now. The Phillies introduced this cap at the start of the 1992 season and still use it today. In fact, last year was its 20th birthday. Yay!!! I actually recall being furious when they brought this hat out because I loved the maroon and powder blue uniforms along with the swirl-style “P” logo. Just something about that looked reigned badassery; plus, I was a huge Mike Schmidt fan growing up, and with the new look it meant that it was time to move on from his era (real sad face). Even though 2008 proved to be a solid year for the Phillies as they won their second World Series title, I couldn’t help but reflect on ’93 when making my choices for marking up my hat.

#4- My first memory of Lenny Dykstra came during Game 6 of the 1986 World Series when he was the lead off batter for the New York Mets. BUT, Dykstra never came to the plate during the 10th inning rally, so he really wasn’t that memorable. Even though he got the ring in ’86, it’s his time with the Phillies that I remember most, especially with every wad of chew he had stuck in his cheek that was printed so diligently on my Topps and Donruss trading cards.

Nails got dealt to the Phillies a little over a third of the way into the 1989 season and played the rest of his career in Philadelphia which came to an end in May of 1996 as a result of injuries. Nails may not have been the greatest player in baseball history, but as Athletics GM Billy Beane said about Dykstra in the book Moneyball, he was, “perfectly designed, emotionally” and had “no concept of failure.” In 1993, this mentality came to light. Dykstra hit .305 for the season and led the League in walks (129), runs (143), at-bats (637), plate appearances (773) and hits (194). He also tagged career highs in home runs (19), stolen bases (37) and RBI (66); not too shabby for a leadoff hitter. Dude, as he was also known, finished in second place for the NL MVP which went to Barry Bonds, his first with the Giants. This is one of the few times where I can honestly say that Dykstra got screwed.
#29- A career .300 hitter, John Kruk was my favorite member of the Phillies throughout the 1990s. One of the more memorable things I remember about Kruk in ’93 was that he humorously portrayed by Chris Farley on Saturday Night Live a number of times. See…

My only issue with his look is that they didn’t make the jheri curl mullet powerful enough. See…

Iconic acting and hairdos aside, Kruk, like Dykstra, was traded to the Phillies about a third of the way into the 1989 season from the San Diego Padres, and hung around Philly until the end of the 1994 season. And like Dykstra, 1993 proved to be quite the landmark year for Kruk. On the season he went .316/14/85 and tagged career highs in walks (111), runs (100) and hits (169). Even more important, Kruk finished 16th on the NL MVP ballot; which leads me to the conclusion that the voters really hated the Phillies in 1993. Kruk is still one of those guys that I love to go back and watch highlights of. Like Tony Gwynn, the two didn’t look the part of professional athletes, but very few could play the game better than they could.

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