Labor Strife A Boon For Phillies

I begin each day praying for some kind of labor strife. It doesn't really matter what it is, I'll take anything; player strike, lockout, whatever it takes. Oh, and it needs to take place next season, not this season. Labor problems in 2005 - I'm tellin' ya, that's the ticket. If you're smart, you'll pray along with me. But your religion has to be Phillies baseball.

I haven't lost my mind.  Hear me out.  In the last half-century, the Phillies have been to the World Series exactly three times.  I know this isn't news to you, and I'm not implying that since the Phillies will invariably lose anyway that we might as well just blow the entire sport to bits.  On the contrary, if my assumptions are correct, the Phillies can just phone in the National League championship this season.  However, it all hinges on 2005 and Major League Baseball's conspiracy to keep championships away from the city of Philadelphia.

Let's go back to those three World Series appearances which, as we all know, happened in 1980, 1983, and 1993.  Two of those three appearances were immediately followed by the longest work stoppages in baseball history.  Need I say more?

(Yes, DN, you need to say more.  Are you implying that there is some connection to the Phillies success and baseball's labor problems?)

Isn't it obvious?  In 1980, the Phillies surprised everyone with their late run to the division title and fortunate victories in the playoffs, culminating in the first (and…ahem…only) World Championship in team history.  The next season the Phillies had it clicking on all cylinders through the first half of the season.  Lefty Carlton won his first eight decisions with an ERA of under 2.70, and Michael Jack Schmidt, with newfound confidence from his buddy Pete Rose and a World Series ring, was lighting everyone up on his way to a possible triple crown.  Schmidt finished that season as the league leader in HR and RBI, while finishing fourth in batting average.  The Phillies were outpacing everyone in the N.L. East, with four more victories than anyone else when the strike began. They were obviously on their way to creating a dynasty.  The henchmen in charge of MLB had to do something, so they created this fictitious labor dispute.

(DN, have you lost your mind?  MLB didn't create that problem, it had been brewing since the dawn of free-agency in 1976.  The players went on strike as a result of the owner's insistence on getting major league compensation directly from the club that signed away the original team's free agent.  The owner's plan would have effectively killed free-agency for all but the best players.  The owners caved on the issue when their strike insurance ran out after 50 days.)

That's exactly what MLB wants you to think.  In reality it was all done to torpedo a baseball dynasty in the City of Brotherly Love.  And it worked.  By the time the "strike" was over, the Phillies had lost momentum, Carlton went 4-3 in the second half while the Phillies played sub .500 baseball.  The real kicker is that they lost to the Montreal Expos in the Division series.  Do you really think it is just coincidence that 1981 is the only year the Expos have ever made the playoffs, and now MLB runs the Expos?  They've been running that franchise the whole time and they used them in 1981 to break the Phillies momentum towards a dynasty.

(Actually, DN, the Expos were one of the best teams in baseball in the early ‘80s with Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, Tim Raines, and Steve Rogers.  They were the Phillies chief rival for the division title from 1979 - 1983.  If MLB was conspiring against a Phillies dynasty, then why were the Phillies back in the World Series in 1983 and nothing happened in 1984?)

Because the Phillies did themselves in that year, all MLB had to do was sit back and watch.  How else do you explain trading Ryne Sandberg and Larry Bowa for Ivan DeJesus in 1982?  Then, they brought in Joe Morgan and Tony Perez to team with Pete Rose.  Add Carlton and Tug McGraw to that mix and you have the perfect advertisement for "Team Viagra."  MLB knew the Phillies were done in their quest for a dynasty after that; they had mortgaged their future for that one season.  MLB turned their attention elsewhere.

But then Krukker, Nails, Dutch, and Wild Thing came out of nowhere in 1993.  They were ruffians, they were unkempt, they drank beer and spit, they grabbed themselves like rappers—they epitomized the city they represented.  MLB wasn't going to sit idly by.  Joe Carter helped MLB narrowly dodge a bullet, but they couldn't take the chance that this band of hell-raisers could stay at the forefront of the baseball world for long.  This was going to take extreme measures; they dusted off the old "labor strife" scenario again but with a twist.  This time, they'd actually cancel the World Series.  Four wars hadn't canceled the playoffs, but the thought of the Phillies going to back-to-back Series' caused the MLB henchmen to take this unprecedented action.

(DN, the Phillies weren't even close to making the playoffs in 1994.  They were a sub .500 team, 20 games out of first place when the lockout began.)

Don't cloud the issue.  You are falling right into MLB's lap.  Don't you see that conspiracy is the only thing that makes sense?  The alternative is that the Phillies have been so inept on their own that they could only manage three World Series appearances in 50 years.  I just refuse to believe that.  It has to be a conspiracy.  The 2004 Phillies have the goods, and MLB knows it.  I can hear the MLB conspiracy machine beginning to churn already.  The Phillies have all the makings of a dynasty about to happen, which means baseball is ripe for another work stoppage in 2005.  Remember, you heard it here first.

Columnist's note:  I welcome any feedback, please send your comments to dncurry@comcast.net.

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