“He hits good fat.” — Jim Fregosi
“I ain’t an athlete, lady.” — John Kruk
The Phillies added one of the most colorful characters in team history into the Wall of Fame at Citizens Bank Park last night. John Kruk joined names such as Robin Roberts, Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton and others.
The ceremony and the fact that Kruk just gets Philly fans is well documented on the Internet and in the papers this morning. There’s no need to join the Department of Redundancy Department that comprises 53.5 percent of blogs with yet another recap or opinion piece.
Kruk’s induction, and Daulton’s last year, do evoke memories of the scrappy, hairy, macho 1993 squad that — for fans in their 30s — represented the one shining moment in a childhood of piss poor Phillies performances. We grew up on a franchise that steamrolled to 10,000 losses.
Yes, there was the team that included eight players and a manager currently part of the Wall of Fame. Of course, that is the 1980 Phillies, the first World Series Champion in franchise history. But, as much as I want to vividly recall that parade, I just can’t. I was four. Sure, I remember Schmidt, Lefty, Pete Rose and others as their careers winded down through the mid 1980s. But, as far as seeing a title team take the field at the Vet, I just don’t recall it that well.
What I do know is this current Phillies squad is the best era of Philadelphia baseball I will likely see in my lifetime. One WFC parade, Two World Series appearances, four straight division titles and all-stars at every position. It just doesn’t get better than this as we approach a fifth division title and another Red October.
Ten to fifteen years from now, the Phillies that placate every baseball fan’s needs these days will be standing where Kruk did on Friday. The question becomes who will make it, and could this era eclipse the 1980s era in terms of the number of people to make it. Remember, eight players (Schmidt, Steve Carlton, Bob Boone, Larry Bowa, Greg Luzinski, Gary Maddux, John Vukovich, Tug McGraw) and a manager (Dallas Green). That is a tall order.
Let’s get to it.
- Jimmy Rollins – No guy had more to do with developing this squad’s championship swagger than JRoll. His 2007 MVP season will always be special. His ability to deliver in the clutch and on the big stage can not be overstated. Does he swing at too many first pitches for some? I guess. Still, you can’t argue with what he has meant to this team an locker room. And if you do, remember the guy is closing in on 2,000 career hits — all as a Phillie.
- Chase Utley — If Rollins was the vocal leader, Utley has been the guy who played every game like it was his last and led by example. Nobody hustles harder than the perennial all-star who has amassed nearly 200 homers and 700 RBI, with a career .292 average. If that’s not enough, his “WFC” statement alone gets him in.
- Ryan Howard – The Big Piece is the second best first baseman in franchise history, trailing just Pete Rose. The 2006 MVP and multi-year all-star will bash his 300th homer next year and likely ends his career somewhere between 400 and 500.
- Cole Hamels — Sure, he’s still young, but the kid has accomplished a lot in the early stages. Two all-star nods, an NLCS and World Series MVP and the look of a true ace. He already has 72 wins and, at 27, is just entering his prime. Should he stay in Philly, 200 wins in red pinstripes is almost a given. He is our Greg Maddux.
- Charlie Manuel – He’s already done more than Dallas Green. He’s in.
- Pat Gillick — Three seasons as a GM yielded two division titles and a parade. He transformed the front office philosophy into an aggressive one. How does he not make it?
Guys who should make it with a few more seasons in Philly:
- Doc Halladay — One Cy Young Award and another possible this season is not a bad way to start a Phillies career. If he pitches this way the next two seasons for which he is under contract, the future MLB Hall of Famer is on the Wall at CBP. The man already has 36 wins in 57 starts. He just needs to do it here more.
- Cliff Lee – The man who spurned a pile of cash that stretched from the rats of the subway up to the Empire State Building to play in front of the Philly fans has already done enough to join The Wall. Numbers-wise, he just needs to pitch like the ace he is for the next three years to ensure his induction. he has 23 wins in 41 career Phillie starts (playoffs included). Again, length of service keeps him from being a “No Brainer.”
- Shane Victorino — The resident hothead has turned in two all-star years, can hit .300 a season and adds a spark to the team. Closing in on 1,000 hits and 600 runs scored in just five years as a full-time starter, Victorino will be WOF material should he continue this pace for another 2-3 years. Another WFC parade wouldn’t hurt, too.
- Ruben Amaro – The man has simply gotten the job done in the GM chair and built Pat Gillick’s squad into a true superpower. A few more successful seasons, including retooling the squad as it ages, and Amaro is in.
- Brad Lidge — One year does not make a WOF inductee. The 2008 season was magical, but injuries have derailed Lidge’s Philly career. Still, with 112 saves in red pinstripes, I’ll contend that if Mitch Williams (106 saves) makes it, so should Lidge.
- Jayson Werth – For Werth, we say the bubble will burst. A fan favorite who “got it?” Sure. But, a guy who did it long enough? Unlikely. Three seasons as a full timer just isn’t enough.
- Carlos Ruiz — Another Mr. October-type postseason run could get Chooch in. That and another Cy Young or two from the rotation would help. He is a solid catcher. His regular season numbers are far from prolific, but the intangibles and length of service put him in the mix.
- Pat Burrell — 251 career Phillies home runs and a solid, if underrated, Phils career should get him in.
In the end, we see nine players (Rollins, Utley, Howard, Hamels, Halladay, Lee, Victorino, Lidge and Burrell) as well as Charlie Manuel, Ruben Amaro and Pat Gillick making it. The total number of 12 tops the 1980 Phillies.
What do you think? leave us thoughts in the comments section and we’ll respond.