The Eagles open the season against the Rams this Sunday. Michael Vick, who was making license plates a couple of years ago, will be leading the Eagles against young, promising upstart Sam Bradford. It’s interesting to note that just less than 10 years ago, these two teams met in St. Louis with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. Kurt Warner, who had been bagging groceries a couple of years before was matched up against the promising young star of the Eagles, Donovan McNabb. Eagles fans were ecstatic to be in the NFC Championship game, their first one since 1980.
But the Eagles defense was no match for Rams superstar Marshall Faulk. He ran for 159 yards and scored two TDs. Of course, that was no knock on an excellent Eagles defense, which had given up 64 points in 8 regular season road games that year, something no team had done since 1942. Faulk was unstoppable at that point in his career, having gained over 2,100 yards from scrimmage that season and having scored 21 TDs, despite missing two games with injury.
The Eagles had no such stars in their backfield, with Correll Buckhalter and Duce Staley combining to rush for almost 1200 yards. But they had a tremendous defense, led by stars Brian Dawkins and Jeremiah Trotter, and wins over the Buccaneers and the bears had gotten them to the NFC championship game. The Birds led, 17-13 at halftime, but the Rams proved to be too much in the 2nd half, and went on to win 29-24. At the time, Eagles fans knew that the better team had won, but were excited by this Eagles team that had all the parts in place to make numerous runs at a title in the future. The Birds would indeed make numerous runs, being a very good team at a time when the NFC was rather pitiful, but they couldn’t get over the top. The Rams game is now held up as an example of their futility, instead of being the moment the Eagles showed the world that they would be a contender for the next decade. Here is a recap of that game on CNNSI.
You can find the box score here. The most interesting thing about the box score to me is the names on the starting lineup, none of whom is currently on the team but many of whom have a place in Eagle lore. Troy Vincent, Brian Dawkins, Jeremiah Trotter, Hugh Douglas, Chad Lewis, and of course McNabb. The last link to that team was dropped a few months ago when the Eagles let David Akers go. The Rams have no players left from their 2001-2002 roster, either. There will however be two former member of that 2001 Eagles team playing for the Rams this Sunday. Can you name them?
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.
Today there is a column on PESC blog about the Phillies intro music, and what it tells us about each player. If you want to know what song every player on the Phils comes up to or warms up to, here’s the list.
Well after digging around a little, I found out what songs the Phils were coming up to bat to 7 years ago. Pretty funny stuff. Here are some highlights:
- Before “Dirty Laundry”, Pat the Bat came up to Holy Diver by DIO. Pretty badass song to come to bat to.
- It says that Jimmy Rollins comes up to the music of Bafia. Uh, who the hell is “Bafia”?
- Jim Thome was coming to bat to The Who’s Can’t Explain. Strange Who song to bat to. I would think that Quadrophenia or Baba O’Riley would get you more fired up.
- Bobby Abreu came out to Bravo de Verdad by Oscar D’Leon a musical legend in Venezuela. Probably one of the few guys ever to go to bat with a song from a guy in his 60s playing.
- Jason Michaels, Mike Lieberthal, and Randy Wolf all came out to Linkin Park songs. Not surprisingly, none of them are still on the team.
- Billy Wagner was closing for us then, and coming out to Enter Sandman.
- Incredibly, Chase Utley, who now comes out to Kashmir by Led Zeppelin, used to come out to We Like to Party by the Vengaboys. This had to be some sort of initiation. No way Chase chose this bull$hit himself.
- Ok, well what about guys who are currently on our team but played elsewhere then? Raul Ibanez currently comes out to bat to Times Like These by the Foo Fighters. But back in 2004, he came out to artists of very different genres. He was on the Mariners then, and he batted to the rotation of Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon and Definition by Blackstar.
- What about our boy Roy Halladay? He was in Toronto then, and he came out to pitch to the song Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor). His Blue Jay teammate Reed Johnson set the standard for worst song ever to come to bat to that year. He batted several times that year to She Bangs by William Hung.
- Oh, and by the way, my at bat music would be Gimme the Loot by Biggie Smallz.