I am sitting at Logan Airport and with an hour before we board figured I’d try to kick this off.
I like it. Compare and contrast each World Series club house that you were a part of. Were there some that felt like winning was inevitable? Were there honest moments when losing felt just as inevitable?
The 4 World Series I played in were 4 incredibly different clubhouses from a personality standpoint. I would tell you that 2004 and 2007 were the two instances where I believe our team ‘knew’ we were winning it all before the series started. Our offenses, and in 2007 with Josh Beckett on a Gibson like run, led us to feel, and I think rightly so, that neither the ’04 Cards (without Carpenter) and the ’07 Rockies had anyone on their staff, starter or reliever, that could stop us from scoring, a lot.
I think we all ‘knew’ we were winning before the 1st pitch of either of those series.
The 1993 Phillies team was literally one in a million. As offensively talented and deep as just about any team of that era (except for the team we were playing actually). That was very different, at least for me personally, in that I wasn’t ‘in’ on that team. It was a team of older players that didn’t take to younger guys much, especially younger players that talked a lot, like me. I knew they respected me when I had the ball, and I felt that they wanted me to have the ball, but that was a very hard year for me personally. Todd Pratt, Mickey, Kevin Jordan, Ben Rivera, those were pretty much my only close friends on the team. I did a lot of sitting in my hotel room watching TV, or playing on my laptop. Towards the end of the year I had software that would become the cornerstone of my career in scouting hitters and stuff (which I became obsessed with).
Everything was new that year, Shonda and I had just gotten married that past winter, and we were both trying to figure out how this thing was supposed to work. That was a team that had a very clear team/family line of demarcation, and you did not cross that line. No family on the road except for the family trips and playoffs. It was a challenge, but it was also a huge lesson in what was to become the life. It was also somewhat of a ‘dying breed’ in as much as the next few years, and then the decade after that, families started to become ‘more involved’ in the life, traveling more and being around more. The ‘old school’ way was to never have wives, kids and family around if at all possible, and that changed dramatically in the 90’s.
As for the World Series, I don’t know if we ever thought we’d win, for sure, or lose, for sure. That Toronto team was loaded, but we weren’t scared of anyone, we truly did take on the city personae in ‘taking on the world’, and it served us well, right up to Joe Carter’s at bat. I remember watching that ball get hit, and knowing the second it did our season was over. And realizing just how suddenly life can change. I also remember thinking “I am witnessing one of the greatest moments in baseball history”, though on the wrong side.
The 2001 team? I think we felt we were a lock to win it after RJ dominated in game 2, and after game 5 I am not sure what anyone thought. If you were not a Yankee fan then that World Series happened in perfect fashion. In a raw post 9/11 America New York hosted 3 of the most amazing World Series games you’ve ever seen, and I truly felt like the city got some sort of a lift from that. I think the ‘pliable” nature of that team, and the fact that RJ was going game 6, was the main reasons we didn’t fold up shop after game 5. We felt we couldn’t get beat when we pitched, and I think the guys in the field believed that as well.
To this day I still believe that was the best World Series ever.