It was fifteen years ago today ...
As you may or may not have heard, the Philadelphia Phillies are playing in the World Series for only the sixth time. As a lifelong Phillies fan, this means I am happy after years of disappointment. I do have to say that I'm not quite as hard core a fan as some, so even if the Phillies lose, I'll forget it fairly soon. I have real things in my life to worry about, thank you very much.
But it's still nice to see them playing on baseball's biggest stage. They haven't been in the World Series since 1993, a series that ended fifteen years ago today. Yes, October 23, 1993, was the sixth and final game of that series. It did not go well for the Phillies.
The World Series that year was actually pretty entertaining, especially the last three games. Trailing 2 games to 1, the Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays staged a wild game in Game Four, with the Phillies taking a 14-9 lead into the eighth before choking it away as the Jays scored 6 runs to win 15-14. Facing elimination in the next game, Curt Schilling threw a five-hit shutout (the last complete game shutout in the World Series for a decade) to bring the Phillies back to 3 games to 2. Then, in Game Six, Mitch Williams took the mound in the bottom of the ninth with a 6-5 lead (after the Phillies scored 5 runs in the top of the seventh to take the lead). Rickey Henderson and Paul Molitor got on, and then, well, Joe Carter came to the plate. Yeah, that didn't end well. On a 2-2 pitch, Carter hit a pitch out of the park.
It's the only time a World Series has ended with a home run by a player on a trailing team and only the second time a World Series ended with a home run (Bill Mazeroski's home run in 1960 broke a tie). Die hard Phillies fans also claim it sent the team into a decade-long tailspin from which they only recently recovered (2007 was the first time they made the postseason since 1993), but let's face it, the '93 team was a bit magical. A lot of players had career years, from Lenny Dykstra flirting with .400 for the first half of the season to Tommy Greene, who won 16 of his career 38 games that season. I very much doubt they would have kept anything going even if they had won the Series. It would have been nice, of course, but it's not like this team was going to turn into a dynasty.
So that was fifteen years ago. This year the Phillies currently have a 1-0 lead in games in the Series, and I really hope they win, not only because I've loved them since the 1980 season (a serendipitous time to become a Phillies fan) but because it seems like a lot of media people want the Rays to win (and Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, who are calling the games, definitely want the Rays to win). Some people have picked the Phillies, of course, but I'm talking about who they're rooting for. And I really, really hope nobody on St. Petersburg ruins our day with a walk-off home run like Joe Carter did. That would suck.