One of the most famous moments in MLB All-Star game history was John Kruk’s at bat against Randy Johnson in the 1993 Midsummer Classic. In an article by Sam Donnellon in the Daily News in 2011, Kruk claims that at the time that at-bat happened, the Phillies were talking to the Mariners about a trade for Randy Johnson.
“If you remember the trade deadline, we had a chance to get Randy Johnson and they didn’t want to give up, I think, Mike Lieberthal,” the Krukker was saying yesterday. “Either him or Tyler Green . . . “
“Look, I love Lieby, he’s one of my favorite people. But, at the time, I wish he was a Mariner.”
It’s funny, because we talk all the time about bad trades in sports, but you don’t hear as much about terrible non-trades. This was obviously a disastrous non-trade. There’s not much about it online. The best I could do was finding some discussion of a Phillies offer in February of 1993.
Philadelphia offered young players such as right-handers Brad Brink, Steve Paris and Mike Williams, first baseman Ricky Jordan and outfielder Wes Chamberlain. Brink was 8-2 at Class AAA Scranton and 0-4 in eight games with the Phillies. Paris was 5-7 at Class AA Reading and 3-3 at Scranton. Williams was 9-1 with Scranton and 1-1 with the Phillies. Jordan batted .304 with only four homers. Chamberlain has more power, nine homers, but hit only .258.
“There was a time last season when I thought something had a chance to be done,” (then Phillies) General Manager Lee Thomas said. “But I don’t think we’re in the hunt anymore.”
According to Krukker, they were still in the hunt all the way until the 1993 trade deadline, but Thomas wouldn’t pull the trigger. Bad move. Tyler Green finished his career 18-25. Lieberthal was obviously a good player, but anyone who wouldn’t deal him for Randy Johnson would be nuts. The Phillies back then were either too scared or too cheap to get rid of prospects for superstars, and you have to wonder how incredible the ’93 Phillies would have been with Schilling and Johnson for the stretch run. Actually, no you don’t. Just watch highlights of the Diamondbacks in the 2001 World Series.
It was on this date in 2000 that Ed Wade shipped Curt Schilling to the Diamondbacks for 5 players. As everyone in Philadelphia already knows, 5-for-1 deals don’t tend to work out in the Phils favor, whether they are getting the five or the one. No-one denies that this particular trade worked out better for the Diamondbacks than it did for the Phillies. But how much better is debatable.
As someone who wasn’t here in 1993, I find the city’s relationship with Schilling fascinating. Nowhere is the strange pschology of Phillies fans showcased more clearly than with #38. He is one of the greatest players in Phillies history (Phillies Nation ranked him #12 all time), but when his name comes up in conversation there are rarely joyous kudos for Schill, but more of a cool, quiet respect with not a little bit of bitterness.
It speaks to the emotional connection the city feels with it’s athletes. In any other sports crazed city, Schilling would be deified for his performance in the ’93 postseason, while a player like Mitch Williams would be hit with tomatoes as soon as he crossed city lines. But in Philly, Williams’ transgressions have long since been forgiven and he has become a local legend, while Schilling putting a towel over his head has never been forgiven. Never. Failure is understood and relatable. Selling out your crew is not. Phillies fans believe, rightly or wrongly, that Schilling sold out Mitch, and these fans never forget.
But even though that makes Philly unique, it doesn’t end the strange relationship between the city and those 90s Phillies ballplayers. Take for example the trade that sent Schilling to the D’Backs. Schilling had come to the conclusion that he was a star on a lame duck team that had neither the money, brains, or the heart to get any better. And he certainly didn’t lack the courage to speak out about it. In 1999, he blasted Ed Wade and the Phillies front office.
Schilling’s latest round of criticism began on Major League Baseball’s weekly conference call Wednesday. In that forum, Schilling rapped ownership for being cheap and not having a commitment to winning. He talked about the possibility of being traded to a team that is committed to winning…Later, in an interview with several reporters at Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Schilling said he wouldn’t want to stay with the team if it wasn’t willing to upgrade at midseason. He added that “if ownership is not willing to make a trade or spend in July, they need to sell the team and give Philadelphia fans what they deserve.”
That didn’t sit well with Wade (who famously called Schilling a horse’s ass), and a year later Wade shipped the disgruntled Schilling to the Diamondbacks. But what I don’t get is that while I do hear Phillie fans blame Schill for the towel incident, I rarely hear them rip him for blasting management and demanding to be shipped out of town. So why do Phillies fans still boo Scott Rolen for doing the exact same thing at essentially the exact same time? Can someone please explain this to me?
As for the trade itself, it’s obvious that the D’Backs got the better end of the deal, and that this was a terrible trade for the Phillies. Schill helped lead Arizona and their hideous uniforms to the 2001 World Series title, and was a beast again in 2002. That said, the deal is nowhere near the Phils’ worst. Keep in mind, this is the franchise that over the years traded Hall of Famers Grover Cleveland Alexander, Chuck Klein, Ferguson Jenkins, and Ryne Sandberg for guys named Pickles Dilhoefer, Harvey Hendrix, Bob Buhl, and Ivan DeJesus, respectively. And that’s just terrible trades they made with the Cubs! And though he never turned into Curt Schilling, Vicente Padilla turned out to be a better than average pitcher. And keep in mind, Schilling had no Flotilla.
Nonetheless, you have to wonder how the Phils would have fared with Schilling in the early 2000s. In 2001, they missed the playoffs by 2 games. You think Schilling mighta gotten them over the hump? That was rhetorical. As is this: assuming those 2001 Phils make the playoffs, and Schilling pitches for them the way he pitched for the Diamondbacks in that years’ postseason, do we wait another 7 years for a title? Alas, the beauty and bane of being a baseball fan is that in no other sport are the “whatifs” as fun or as frustrating to discuss.
Yesterday we posted your memories of Game 4 of the 1993 World Series. Today we’ll post your memories of Game 6. I was a senior in high school at a party at my buddy Ryan’s house. I remember me and a couple of guys went up to the his parents bedroom to watch the last few innings, since they were watching something else on the main TV. So we gathered around a fuzzy 13 inch tv to watch the last few innings. I lived in Virginia, but we were all rooting for the Phils. One of the greatest team of underdogs ever, and furthermore they were repping the USA. We sat in stone silence when that ball went over. Can only imagine how heartbreaking it was here.
Isaac: Mitch vs Joe Carter was my 16th birthday present.
Dan: I watched at a Ground Round in Wilmington, DE with same college friend and some others. That night I’m pretty sure I taught the patrons some new words. Maybe I phoned a death threat to Mitch Williams that night, maybe I just dreamed it. But I definitely swore that I wouldn’t watch a meaningful Phillies game with that friend ever again.
Bill: I standing next to Mayor Rendell when Carter ended both the series and the ’93 Beaux Arts Ball. There had to be a 60 foot screen at the Convention Center (Where I was working). That ball goes out, and the party ends, hours earlier than expected.
Duff: I remember rushing from rehearsal and walking into the raucous TGI Friday’s on the parkway just in time to see the last pitch. Deafening silence followed. First time ever in a Friday’s. Have not been back since.
Andrew: I taped Game 6 of the Series on my VCR. Ever after, no matter where I rewound or fast-forwarded to, the VHS tape *always* seemed to begin with the final pitch of the Series leaving Mitch Williams’ hand and Joe Carter waiting for it — my one brush with the paranormal.
Pat: I was at a kids baptism celebration, in a family friend’s basement, watching it at the bar they had down there. Before the ball even went over, I put my head down on the bar. I looked up again to make sure it was true, and then I put my head down again, and cried. I was 11.
Carl: The moment after Joe Carter’s home run was the first time I ever blatantly cursed in front of my parents. My emotional 5th-grade self took the Nerf Turbo football I’d been clutching like a stress ball throughout the game, hurled it at Carter’s face, and yelled “F**K!” as loud as I could before bursting into tears.
Sean: Carter’s home run was like the punchline of a cosmic joke — it was the first time I understood that some things are too good to be true. Tough lessons in October 1993. I still don’t like thinking about it.
Carl: Oh, and I wasn’t in trouble. At all.
Mike: I didn’t have any friends at that point in time, so I just spent the whole summer of ’93 season at my aunt’s place. She would always watch the games with me, which meant everything to me. Losing Game 6 brought me back to the reality that I didn’t have friends or anything to fall back on. Devastating.
Michael O: I was in the 4th grade. Almost 10. At the conclusion of game 6, I locked myself in the bathroom and cried for a half an hour.
Andrew: Whatever you think of Lenny Dykstra now, I remember thinking when he hit that home run in Game 6 that he was singlehandedly putting the Phils into a Game 7.
Art: I was watching from a packed Chasers Pub just off South Street on 4th. I remember begging Mitch to just throw a strike. I leapt in excitement when Carter swung and by the time I landed I realized that the ball was gone. It never dawned on me that Carter would hit a homerun. The only battle I was focusing on was Mitch vs. the strike zone. I was in disbelief. Some stranger later bought be a shot because he thought I needed one.
And finally a note from a recovering Blue Jays fan, Dirty Gert: I grew up outside of schenectady and had no local team to root for. So when the Blue Jays made it to the World Series, there was no question who I was rooting for. Watching Mitch Williams implode and big Joe Carter become an elder hero was beautiful.
Then when I moved to Philly in 1998 things slowly changed. The lowly underdogs I saw 20x a year in the empty Vet became an obsession. Every man I talked to became emotional when discussing 1993. I started to get angry myself. Why couldn’t Mitch have thrown one more ball out of the strike zone? Why couldn’t this passionate town get just one more title? Revisionist history took hold and I invented memories of loving the scrappy, boozy geezers of 93.
I can’t imagine the same thing happening if I moved to another city, like Tampa or Chicago. The Phils are my team now, as they are to anyone who has ever called Philadelphia a home.
With the Phils taking on the Blue Jays this weekend, I asked people on facebook and twitter to send me their memories of the 1993 World Series. Most people sent in memories of Game 4 and 6. So we’ll split this up into two parts. Today, I’ll post people’s memories of Game 4, one of the most epic (and heartbreaking) games in World Series history. Tomorow, I’ll post the Game 6 memories. If you have any Game 6 memories of where you were when you watched Game 6, how you felt, what you remember, etc., post them on our wall on facebook or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If anything below triggers any memories of Game 4, please feel free to comment in the comments section.
Rick: Went to Game 4 of the Series. Sat directly behind home plate, upper deck, 2nd row. Unbelievable perch to watch line drives being sprayed around the entire game. There was nothing but hitting in that game. I never had a good feeling in that game, even though the lead got up to 14-9.. Sometime in the middle of the game, fog and light rain started to roll in. Things became very eerie. Then Toronto started pounding the ball in the 7th and you could just feel the bad vibes. It was crushing to score 14 runs and lose.
D-Mac: I have attended one World Series game in my life. The Phillies lost, 15-14. The Eagles usually didn’t score 14 points when I went to see them play at the Vet. The Phillies did, and they lost. I don’t want to talk about it anymore.
Allen: A surreal night of so many ups and downs. I watched with a friend at a bar, somewhere near Horsham, I no longer remember the name of the place. The Phillies needed the win, and had it, several times, until that 8th inning that would never end. A 5-run lead with 6-outs should have been safe. I should have known better. I’d lived through the nightmares of 77, 78, and so many bad seasons between outside of 1980. I can still remember driving home, thinking: ‘Why did he take Anderson out? He was the only guy getting outs.’
Rob: I turned down tickets to the 15-14 game to play a non-playoff foot hockey game in woodhaven. They had a radio in the pen box so people were taking pens on purpose just to listen to game. When the ref caught on he stopped calling pens and it became a bloodbath.
Mike: I went to bed early during the 15-14 game. I woke up the next morning to see the highlights of the rest of the game and I remember hearing the Sportscenter guy say the words “…and then the floodgates opened” and my heart sank. I was in shock. I told my Mom I couldn’t go to school and she totally understood. I called into WIP for the first time that day but I couldn’t bring myself to talk about it so I just ranted about how much of a loser Shawn Bradley was.
Vaughn: I was at game 4. It seemed like we were screaming “WHOOT There it IS!!!” three times in every inning. When Gaston left middle reliever Frank Castillo in to bat for himself I told my friend the series was over.
D-Mac: There was an upside: About a half hour before the game started, a fan put up a giant “McCARVER SUCKS” sign in the 500 Level. Someone made him take it down, but for a few minutes it was glorious.
Mike Lalli: My dad rought me to Game 4. Our seats were literally in the last row in right field at… the Vet. The game seemed miles away. He spied some seats in the lower level and by the 5th inning we were sitting in the 100 level behind the plate. I second Mr. Sandman above- “Whoomp, There it is” was all over the place. Tag Team even made an appearance at the game. I remember the song more than the game itself, which is a shame.