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Remembering the 1993 NL champion Phillies in their silver anniversary season

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Daulton was the acknowledged clubhouse leader of the 1993 NL champions

The Philadelphia Phillies are officially feting the 2008 World Series championship team this weekend.

On the 10th anniversary of the historic season which concluded with that team winning the second title in franchise history, it is wholly understandable and appropriate.
However, there is another beloved Phillies team celebrating a big anniversary this year.
In fact, as someone who has been following the team closely since Veteran’s Stadium opened in 1971, I’ve always maintained that the other anniversary team provided the most fun single Phillies season that I ever experienced.
Sure, the 1980 and 2008 Phillies teams both won the World Series. I attended Game Two of the 1980 Fall Classic as an 18-year-old. I was at the parade celebrations for both championship teams.
I was inside JFK Stadium in October of 1980 when Tug McGraw told New York to “take this world championship and stick it!” I was videotaping at 15th & JFK and captured a fan making a memorable climb up a light pole on Halloween in 2008.
But for all the drama, excitement, and ultimate thrill that those two clubs provided, there was never a more fun Phillies season from start to (almost) finish for me than the one provided by the 1993 team.
It almost seems lost in all the excitement over the 10th anniversary of the 2008 club, but this is now the silver anniversary for the 1993 National League champion Philadelphia Phillies team.
Yes, it has been 25 years now since that mullet-wearing, scruffy-bearded, ‘Macho Row’-led crew stormed through baseball. In a March 2012 piece, Mike Bertha at Philadelphia Magazine summed up that unforgettable season perfectly:

“It began with a bench-clearing brawl at spring training. Then, over the course of 103 total wins, 49 extra innings, 12 playoff games and some late nights (or, more accurately, early mornings), the 1993 Phillies seduced the city. Fans spent the summer flocking to the Vet to watch their appropriately nicknamed “Animal House,” both captivated and agog as the Phillies stampeded through the National League and then marched through Atlanta to earn a date with the defending-champion Toronto Blue Jays in the World Series.”

The Darren Daulton Foundation operates today in the name of, and as a memorial to, the namesake captain of that Phillies team. The foundation provides financial assistance to those who suffer from brain cancer and brain tumors. On June 8, they held a reunion celebration for the 1993 team.
Our own Kevin McCormick here at Phillies Nation reported on the event and those in attendance back in June:

“…the pennant-winning team showed up for the event, including: Tommy Greene, Jim Eisenreich, Larry Bowa, Milt Thompson, Ben Rivera, Mickey Morandini, David West, Tony Longmire, Curt Schilling, and even Danny Jackson who arrived after throwing out the first pitch at the Phillies-Brewers game across the street. Fans in attendance got to meet the players, take pictures, get autographs, and chat with the guys throughout the night.”

Morandini, who shared second base duties with Mariano Duncan, eventually became a minor league manager and then a big league coach with the Phillies. He remains on the payroll as a popular club ambassador.
Five of the men who were in uniform and playing important roles that summer are no longer with us, including Daulton. The catcher and leader of that ball club died a year ago this coming Monday following a four-year battle with brain cancer.

Also now gone off to play on that “Field of Dreams” in the sky is their raspy-voiced manager Jim Fregosi, along with three members of his coaching staff: John VukovichJohnny Podres, and Mel Roberts.
Phillies fans still get plenty of first baseman John Kruk (TV) and reliever Larry Andersen (radio) as members of the current Phillies regular broadcasting crew. Andersen and Daulton hold the distinction of being the only players to appear with the Phillies during both the 1983 and 1993 pennant-winning seasons.
Greene was a member of the 1993 starting rotation, joining Schilling, Jackson, Rivera, and Terry Mulholland. He and shortstop Kevin Stocker can be found chipping in work as a broadcaster and analyst respectively at times.
Some of the more popular members of that hard-charging ball club have become embroiled in controversy over the years. Beginning with nine seasons in Phillies pinstripes, Schilling built a strong Hall of Fame résumé as he continued his career helping the Diamondbacks and Red Sox to World Series victories.
The MVP of the 1993 NLCS victory over Atlanta, Schilling’s shutout in Game Five of the World Series that year is one of the greatest post-season pitching performances in Phillies history. Some now find him controversial as an outspoken conservative political and social commentator.
Mitch Williams was a respected analyst with MLB Network before he was fired in 2014 after an altercation at a youth tournament. Williams filed a lawsuit and was ultimately awarded a $1.5 million judgement in June of last year.
Lenny Dykstra finished as runner-up to Barry Bonds in voting for the 1993 National League Most Valuable Player. ‘The Dude’ or ‘Nails’ as he was alternately known blasted dramatic home runs in both the NLCS and World Series that year.
Over the ensuing decades, the now 55-year-old Dykstra has fallen the farthest and hardest. In May of this year came his latest incident, arrested in New Jersey after allegedly pointing a weapon at an Uber driver and threatening to blow the driver’s head off. Cocaine, marijuana, and ecstasy were found on him by responding police.
Some members of that 1993 team are already immortalized by the organization. Bowa, previously honored in 1991 for his role as a player, would be joined by Vukovich (2007), Daulton (2010), Kruk (2011), and Schilling (2013) on the Phillies Wall of Fame.
It was a completely unexpected, fun summer filled with wild, walk-off wins, some in the wee hours of the morning. Numerous seemingly unlikely heroes stepping up to deliver pivotal hits or make clutch plays at crucial moments. A wild band of misfit characters playing the parts and winning the hearts of Phillies fans for decades to come.
They fell just two games short of the ultimate prize. But even that was nothing to hang their heads about. The Toronto Blue Jays finally ended their magic with Joe Carter‘s walk-off home run in Game Six.
That Toronto club, already defending World Series champions, put a trio of Hall of Famers on the field in Rickey HendersonPaul Molitor, and Roberto Alomar, as well as a handful more all-stars. The 1993 Phillies were within a big blown lead in Game Four and Carter’s heroics of pulling off their most stunning victory of all.
As you justly honor and remember the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies this weekend on the occasion of their 10th anniversary, take some time out to also recall that 1993 Phillies team. A silver anniversary is just as worthy of celebration, especially this one.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as “World Series winners not the only beloved Phillies team celebrating an anniversary

Chase Utley’s Place in Phillies History

As rumors and speculation begin to grow louder and more credible as each day passes, many fans of Philadelphia Phillies iconic 2nd baseman Chase Utley have had to begin coming to grips with the possibility of his actually leaving the team, and appearing in another MLB uniform.
The hot speculation surrounds the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants, for a number of reasons. 
First, the Giants have a need. Their offensive depth chart took a pair of significant hits recently with the losses of 2nd baseman Joe Panik and outfielder Nori Aoki to injuries.
Also, those Giants are contending, and would like to shake their “win in even, lose in odd years” label. They currently sit just 3.5 games behind the arch-rival Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West race, and 4.5 behind the Chicago Cubs in the race for the final NL Wildcard playoff spot.
Finally, the Bay area is perfect for the player and his family. Utley’s wife Jennifer is a native of San Francisco, and Chase himself is a California native, born and raised in Pasadena. Both are UCLA graduates, and in the off-season the couple makes their home in Sausalito, at the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Also rumored to be at least following Utley’s health and performances are both the Cubs and Dodgers, as well as the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels.
Although the MLB non-waiver trade deadline passed as of midnight August 1st, players who are put on waivers and pass through that process unclaimed can be traded during the calendar month of August. Utley passed through waivers unclaimed as of Tuesday afternoon.
Another factor in his situation is that Utley is a “10-and-5” player under Major League Baseball’s Basic Agreement. This means that as a player with 10 years of MLB service time, 5 of those as consecutive years with the same organization, he has the right to veto any trade.
Contractually, Utley is earning $15 million this season. He is likely owed about $3-4 million for the balance of the remaining 2015 season. In order for a $15 million option to vest automatically for the 2016 season, he would need to reach 500 plate appearances this year.
Currently at just 267 appearances, thanks largely to an injury that knocked him out for two months, he will not reach that mark. Therefore, Utley will basically be a rental for the balance of the regular season and through any possible postseason run.
Whether Chase is actually dealt or not, his days in red pinstripes appear to be winding to a close. The only question now appears to be whether he ends his career as a Phillie, retiring on his own terms, or after a period in at least one other uniform.
Phillies fans have had to deal with goodbyes to longtime franchise stalwarts Jimmy Rollins and Cole Hamels in recent weeks and months. 
Inevitably and likely soon, Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz, the other remaining members of what has to be considered the “Core Five” of that ‘Glory Era’ team of the last decade, will leave as well.
The time will come when we celebrate them all again in reunions, and honor them with places on the franchise’ Wall of Fame. 
But before we even reach the point that their actual playing careers end, as they leave the Phillies we can begin to evaluate where these recent greats fit in the larger scheme of the franchise’ history.
Over these last few days, I have seen a number of opinions expressed about which player was actually more important, or valuable, or productive during that great run of the prior decade. I have even seem some speculation on where some of these players rank among the all-time Phillies greats.
While he will always receive the benefit of “recency effect” with contemporary fans, where should Chase Utley rank among Phillies players? Among all the Phillies greats throughout club history? Among the best 2nd basemen that have worn the Phils’ uniform? Even among his own ‘Glory Era’ teammates?
Chase Utley has a career .282/.366/.480 slash line, with 232 Home Runs, 914 RBI, 947 Runs scored, 142 career Stolen Bases. 
He is a 6x NL All-Star, 4x NL Silver Slugger at 2nd base, and has finished in the top 15 of NL MVP voting 5x as well.
Currently, Chase sits in 9th place on the Phillies all-time Hits list with 1,615. Were he to finish out this season, he would have a shot at getting the 33 more he would need to pass Sherry Magee for 8th place. 
In the entire 133-season history of the team, only Magee, Chuck KleinLarry BowaDel EnnisEd Delahanty, Richie Ashburn, Mike Schmidt, and Rollins have more hits in a Phillies uniform.
Utley is also 6th all-time in Home Runs behind only Schmidt, Howard, Ennis, Pat Burrell, and Klein. He is 7th in RBI, 6th in Runs, 5th in Doubles, and 8th in Games played. 
In short, Chase Utley is among the Top 10 greatest Phillies of all-time, no matter how you slice it.
Back in early January of this year, I rated Utley at #8 on my listing of the “20 Greatest Phillies of All-Time” at TBOH, just ahead of Harry Kalas and Paul Owens, but behind Howard, Pete Rose, Hamels, Rollins, Ashburn, Steve Carlton, and Schmidt.
I have had the pleasure of watching two Phillies teams win a World Series in my lifetime, and both had tremendous 2nd basemen playing pivotal roles on teams with superstars all around them.
On the 1980 team, it was Manny Trillo, who was the Phils’ starter at the Keystone from 1979-82. Trillo was a magnificent defensive player, surely superior to Utley in that regard. 
Trillo won Gold Gloves in three of his four seasons with the Phillies, was the NL Silver Slugger at 2nd base while with the team in both 1980 and ’81, and was an NL All-Star with the Phillies in both 1981 and ’82.
Trillo was also the MVP of the 1980 National League Championship Series. Anyone who was actually around for that dramatic 5-game battle royale with the Houston Astros, that still ranks as the best NLCS of all-time for many baseball fans, knows just how vital Trillo’s contributions were to the Phils’ overcoming Houston and reaching their first World Series in 30 years.
Also during my lifetime, I got to watch another outstanding 2nd baseman develop and become a star with the Phillies, as Juan Samuel came up and thrived during the mid-late 1980’s.
“Sammy” was an electric offensive player for the Phils from 1983-89, spanning the ‘Wheeze Kids’ with Rose through the end of Schmidt’s career. 
Samuel broke in with that aging 1983 club, and got his only taste of postseason action that year, appearing in four games, including his only postseason at-bat in Game 5 of the World Series vs. Baltimore.
Samuel finished 2nd in the 1984 NL Rookie of the Year voting after leading the league with 19 triples and stealing 72 bases. 
For the rest of the decade he was an offensive dynamo, reaching double-digits in homers every year of his Phillies career. 
In 1987, Samuel hit 27 homers, drove in 100 runs, and scored 113, finishing 13th in NL MVP voting and winning the NL Silver Slugger at 2nd base.
As a kid during the mid-70’s, I got to enjoy the emergence of the Phillies as contenders in the early Veteran’s Stadium era, thanks largely to a homegrown nucleus of players. 
But that nucleus received an injection of veteran experience necessary for taking the step to contending status with the arrival of 2nd baseman Dave Cash.
Cash arrived for the 1974 season, and remained the Phillies starter for three years through 1976. He was an NL All-Star and finished among the top 15 in NL MVP voting each of those seasons. 
Cash would hit a cumulative .296 over the three seasons, and scored 296 runs, leading the team to the playoffs in 1976 for the first time in over a quarter-century.
The Phillies also received a couple of nice 2nd base seasons just before Utley’s arrival from the man he would replace, Placido Polanco
In the 2003-04 seasons, Polanco hit a combined 31 homers and scored 161 runs as the team bridged the Veteran’s Stadium and Citizens Bank Park eras. He would return to the team as a 3rd baseman a handful of years later.
Jul 31, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies Wall of Fame member Samuel before a game against the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park. (Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)
On the famed 1993 “Macho Row” team that reached the World Series, the duties at 2nd base were split evenly between the right-handed Mariano Duncan and lefty Mickey Morandini
They were used with incredible effectiveness by manager Jim Fregosi on a team that, more than any in franchise history, mastered the concept of the platoon player.
In the early decades of the team, Hall of Famer Nap Lajoie got his start with the Phillies, playing his first five seasons here before going on to real, lasting fame as a member of the Cleveland Indians. Lajoie was the Phils’ starting 2nd baseman from 1898-1900.
In the 1898 season with the Phillies, he led the NL in doubles with 43 and in RBI with 127. 
Lajoie would play in Philadelphia in both 1901 and ’02, but as a member of Connie Mack‘s new American League “Athletics”, with whom he would also finish his career in 1915-16 after 13 seasons in Cleveland.
Chase Utley has to be ranked above all of these greats as the single greatest 2nd baseman in the history of the Philadelphia Phillies franchise. He joins both Rollins and Howard as the greatest at their positions in team history.
This means that from 2005-2014, a full decade, Phillies fans of recent vintage got to enjoy the greatest infield that this city has ever seen on a baseball diamond. It is likely something that none of them will ever see again at that level.
That ‘Glory Era’ is a gift they gave us together, one that will stay with us as long as we live. Howard hit more homers, won an NL MVP and NLCS MVP, and won a Rookie of the Year. Rollins won Gold Gloves, became the all-time franchise Hits leader, and won an NL MVP of his own. Hamels was the MVP of both the 2008 NLCS and World Series.
But the fact of the matter is that none of them win that 2008 World Series without Utley. And the fact of the matter is that Utley doesn’t win it without them. To pit them up against one another in “this one was more important than that one”, or “this one was better than that one” is simply ridiculous, and is frankly unimportant.
It was a glorious team, with numerous pieces, including a manager in Charlie Manuel who knew how to get the most out of them. They would never have reached the level they did without their collective efforts.
As we say goodbye to Chase Utley, whether that is in the next few hours or days, or in the coming weeks or months, we continue to say goodbye to an entire era, an entire team.
Chase will always be “The Man” from that team, and we will always love him for his “World-(bleepin’)-Champions!” emotion, for his hustle, for his smarts. His #26 shirsey and jersey will continue to be worn with pride all over Philly as we all grow old. 
Whatever happens, I think we all wish him, and all of them, the very best in whatever else their careers and lives may hold.