Phillies Have a Hand in Baseball's Post-Season

While we as Phillies fans think there is nothing but free agency and the hiring of a manager to look forward to, we can also come to grips with the fact that we played quite a hand in shaping the 2004 World Series. Yes, it will be a series full of former Phillies and there was plenty for a Phillies fan to watch, admire and yes, even cry in our beers about as the post-season played out.

It didn't really strike me until the other night. There I was watching the Yankees and Red Sox with my girlfriend. She's not a baseball fan, but enables my addiction with the sport more than she really should. It was a simple sentence from her that changed my outlook on the post-season. "Man, everyone in this game is a former Phillie," she said.

As I pondered it, I realized that I had spent a good chunk of time telling her about Terry Francona and Curt Schilling. How Schilling had pitched in a World Series for the Phillies and sat in the dugout with a towel over his head when Mitch Williams was trying to lock up a championship. How he had soured on baseball in Philadelphia and how Ed Wade had founded an ill-advised trade that sent him to Arizona.

I talked about my days of covering the Phillies when Francona was the manager. "Nice guy, but didn't get the Phillies anywhere near the World Series," I remember saying. The truth is that Francona is a nice guy and deserves to have a club that is bound for World Series. Whether or not they could have or would have gotten there without Francona is an argument that can't truly be settled. We can only debate it for an eternity. The fact is that he may be getting fitted for a World Series ring in the near future with a rather historic ride through the center of Boston. Of course, he could pull a Grady Little and become a footnote in history, but that's again, all up to debate and needs to be left to the future.

Terry Francona lifts Curt Schilling in a spring training game in March of 2004. Now, the two former Phillies will face another former Phillie – Scott Rolen – in the World Series.
I also thought back to telling my girlfriend about Scott Rolen and Marlon Anderson. How Rolen was one of my favorite players, which she already knew from the various photos and even the Scott Rolen Beanie Baby on my desk. I recounted the days when Rolen made his infamous comments about being interested in free agency and sealed his fate with the Phillie faithful. How again, Ed Wade came up with a somewhat misguided deal that sent him to Heaven…I'm sorry, St.Louis. Not unlike Francona, Rolen really is a good guy and deserves to be headed for "The Series". It was great to see him hit a homerun to put the Cardinals up 4-2 in the game. Believe it or not, like it or not, Rolen deserves his day in the sun.

You have to figure that it would only be fitting for Francona, Schilling and Rolen to meet up in one of those friendly Boston pubs for a beer and drink a toast to Ed Wade. Perhaps, their thoughts can be much like my girlfriend's when she asked "Is that Wade guy still with the Phillies, because it seems he made a lot of bad trades?" Maybe she's catching on to this sport.

Speaking of trades, I told her how the Phillies had also helped the Astros. They were the ones who traded for Billy Wagner and freed up some money for Houston to go after Carlos Beltran in mid-season. Perhaps, without that deal, the Astros don't get Beltran and without him, they certainly don't go to the post-season. While we're lucky to have Wagner and hope his injuries disappear faster than Brandon Duckworth, Astros fans out there still owe their favorite Phillies fan a beer.

The discussion even turned to days of long ago. Stories of the J.D. Drew debacle and how great it is that the Cardinals are going to the World Series and Drew is spending his days visiting Rafael Furcal in jail. It went back even further. Stories of how Steve Carlton pitched for both the Cardinals and Phillies and how others like Rick Wise had done the same thing. Of course, I had to explain the whole saga of 1964 and how the Cardinals took away the pennant from the Phillies and went on to win the World Series. Part of me thinks it would have been somewhat fitting to see that same match-up forty years later. It might have brought some weird sort of closure to the whole thing for Phillies fans. I told her about the classic playoff series between the Phillies and Astros in 1980. I told her about my trip – perhaps, a pilgrimage – to Fenway Park a few years ago to see Pedro Martinez pitch against the Rangers. Of course, stories of the Boston and New York rivalry were long and plentiful.

Yes, there's plenty here for Phillies fans. Much of it is bittersweet, but let's face it, the Phillies had their hand in much of baseball's pre-season. We still have Scott Rolen stepping to the plate against Curt Schilling to watch for. Who knows what memories will be made in the remaining games to be played between Boston and St.Louis. Yes, there is a lot there for a Phillies fan and many stories to tell the non-fan about. Perhaps, too many stories. Maybe that's why I neglected to mention that the guy in the broadcast booth for Fox, Tim McCarver, was also a Phillie. We'll save that for the World Series.

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