Revenge for 1950? Really?

Robin_RobertsThe Phillies brought out Robin Roberts, the Hall-of-Fame pitcher and one of the all-time great guys in the history of the game, so he could talk about his one and only World Series appearance on Monday afternoon. The significance, of course, was that Roberts and the Phillies were swept by Joe DiMaggio’s Yankees in the series that took place 59 years ago.

Some folks around these parts haven’t forgotten about the 1950 World Series mostly because it used to be that the Phillies didn’t play for the championship all that much. After all, before 1950 the Phillies had been to the World Series just once—in 1915—and never again until 1980.

With that kind of track record, it’s obvious to see why the Phillies in the World Series is such a big deal to the old-timers. It’s easier to see why it’s a big deal when they are faced up against the Yankees. They beat them in four straight in 1950, for gosh sakes!

But the world changes, time marches on and all that kind of stuff. The A’s don’t play in Philadelphia or Kansas City anymore. Yankee Stadium has been replaced by a newer Yankee Stadium and Connie Mack Stadium (or Shibe Park depending on your preference or demographic) was like two stadiums ago.

Check this out: my five-year old was born into a world where the Red Sox have won it twice, the White Sox once and where the Phillies are going to the World Series in back-to-back years. It’s crazy. Crazier still, the Yankees haven’t won it since 2000. Think of it… he has never been alive long enough to see the Yankees win the World Series.

Yet 1950 is a big enough deal that they have to push Robin Roberts in front of the microphone so he could talk about Bubba Church, Curt Simmons and, of course, Jim Konstanty.

“The Konstanty thing was a miracle,” Roberts said about the league’s top reliever making his starting debut in Game 1 of the 1950 World Series. “(Manager) Eddie Sawyer gave him the ball and he went out there like he was doing it his whole life. … That really was a miracle. If he would have won that would have been something they talked about forever, but because he lost people kind of forgot about it.”

Yeah, it’s funny how that works.

Then ol’ Robin had to talk about pitch counts and things like that.

“If you ever saw Stanky play…”

Sorry, let’s just cut him off there. If you ever saw Stanky play? Robin, good sir, we never saw you play. No one from the regular group of scribes and definitely not the players knew anything about Roberts or the 1950 Whiz Kids. In fact, on the Phillies coaching staff only two guys were old enough to have vague memories of Roberts’ Phillies. Charlie Manuel was six and Davey Lopes was five when the Phillies last played the Yankees.

They are much older now.

No, the 1950 World Series is about as meaningful as those three games the Phillies and Yankees played back in May. I watched ESPN trot out stats from the series played in May when the Phillies won two of three even though Brad Lidge got two blown saves.

Really? May?

“We’ve played about 200 games since then,” Jayson Werth said, exaggerating slightly. “It doesn’t matter.”

Live in the now, that’s what Robin Roberts does. He says he has the MLB Extra Innings package so he can watch all the games and follows the Phillies just like any die hard baseball fan.

So yeah, Roberts wants the Phillies to get “revenge” for the 1950 World Series. You know, not that he thinks of it that way.

“I really enjoy watching the games,” Roberts said. “It would be awful nice to see them win it again, not just because it’s the Yankees but because they are bordering on something really extraordinary.”

Since we’re on the subject of Philadelphia vs. New York in the World Series, how come no one is talking about those A’s and Giants matchups? In three different World Series, Connie Mack’s Philadelphia A’s beat John McGraw’s New York Giants in two out of three.

The Giants took the 1905 World Series in five games, but Philadelphia bounced back in 1911 in six games and then again in 1913 in five games.

So there’s that, too.

You’re all winners!

ddlThis is going to be the last baseball-related post for the next few days. Next week this space will hold nothing but the scene and the scenesters from Clearwater so it’s good to diversify. You know… goof on other goofiness for a while.

In the meantime, I’m going to go see There Will Be Blood [1] before my wife’s annual Academy Awards extravaganza at the house on Sunday night. From what I’m told this year’s menu will include a new red lentil soup recipe as well as baked brie with raspberries and almonds[2].

Once again my suggestion to serve a six-foot hoagie with a pony keg was ignored.

Anyway, this effort is hardly going to be an effort at all. In fact, it’s essentially going to be recycled from last February when the Phillies announced their Wall of Fame ballot. This year the club added Doug Glanville, Greg Gross, Jim Fregosi and Lancaster Countian Gene Garber to the ballot, though it seems unlikely that anyone from that group will gain election for enshrinement, in which the criterion is:

Phillies players with five or more years of service are eligible. Managers and coaches need four or more years of service.

In addition to a player’s statistical record, consideration is given to longevity, ability, contributions to the Phillies and baseball, character and special achievements.

This year the 15 players on the ballot are:

Pitchers: Larry Christenson, Jim Konstanty, Gene Garber, Rick Wise
Catcher: Darren Daulton
Infielders: John Kruk, Fred Luderus, Juan Samuel
Outfielders: Lenny Dykstra, Von Hayes, Greg Gross, Doug Glanville
Manager: Gene Mauch, Jim Fregosi
Coaches: Mike Ryan

Out of the 15 eligible, I cast my three vote(s) for Jim Konstanty, Darren Daulton and Gene Mauch.

Konstanty gets the vote simply for the 1950 season. During that year, as a relief pitcher, Konstanty appeared in a then Major League-record 74 games and was National League’s MVP. When the Phillies got to their first World Series since 1915, Konstanty took the ball and started Game 1for his first start in approximately four seasons.

Ultimately Konstanty only won 51 games and saved 54 in 6½ seasons for the Phillies, but he was one of the pioneers in the game as a true relief specialist, yet was also versatile and strong enough to pile up more than a 100 innings.

Don’t tell me the Phillies wouldn’t like to have a relief pitcher to toss 70 or so innings this season.

I don’t think I have to get too into why Daulton should be enshrined. Simply, he may have been one of the most important players – for his time – the franchise ever had. Importance of a player, of course, belies simple things such as numbers on a stat page and in that regard Daulton is both simple and complex. He led the league in both RBIs and knee operations… then moved to the outfield after two decades of squatting.

Better yet, he was the straw that stirred the drink in ’93. Go ahead… ask anybody.

Gene MauchMauch, on the other hand, was regarded as one of the best baseball minds as well as the most star-crossed. He has managed more seasons without reaching the World Series than anyone else. Worse, Mauch had come so excruciatingly close to getting there so many times only to fall through a trap door.

There was 1964, which people around here remember, but then in 1982 he guided the California Angels to 2-0 lead in the best of five series only to drop the final three games to the Milwaukee Brewers. That was the first time that had ever happened.

In 1986, Mauch’s Angels were one pitch away from beating the Boston Red Sox in five games of the best-of-seven ALCS before Donnie Moore served up the famous home run to Dave Henderson. The Red Sox went on to win Game 5 and then games 6 and 7 to further extend Mauch’s curse.

Yet for the Phillies, Mauch turned a laughingstock into a contender by winning 646 games in a little more than eight seasons. From 1962 to 1967, Mauch’s Phillies finished .500 or better in every season, which was a rarity for the franchise.

There it is… go vote online at the Phillies’ web site.

In the meantime, here are my Oscar picks [3]based on no knowledge whatsoever:

Supporting actress: Cate Blanchett, I’M NOT THERE
Supporting actor: Javier Bardem, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
Actress: Ellen Page, JUNO
Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, THERE WILL BE BLOOD
Director: The Coen Bros., NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
Best picture: There Will Be Blood

[1] Again.
[2] Yeah, we’re doing alright.
[3] Yes, I know there is no way to judge art or acting unless all of the actors play the same part. I also know that the Academy Awards are inherently a big pile of BS.