So the 2010 Phils were unbeatable? Just like the 1993 Braves

On July 21, the Philadelphia Phillies were 48-46, not even in second place in the National League East. They were third, a half-game behind the Mets and seven games behind the Braves. Then Philly won 49 of its final 68 regular-season games and surged from seven games behind to six games ahead. And then it swept the Reds in the Division Series, allowing no hits in Game 1 and no runs in Game 3.

And right about there, I’m guessing one or two of you were thinking just what I was thinking: “There’s no beating this team.”

The World Series begins tomorrow night. Philadelphia will not be playing. The best-looking National  League team of the past 16 years was beaten by San Francisco in six games in the NLCS, three of the losses coming by one run. I mention this because there was, 17 years ago, a team of similar eminence that stormed down the stretch, overrode an even deeper deficit and seemed a mortal lock to become the first team since the Cardinals during World War II to win three consecutive NL pennants.

And it lost in the NLCS, also in six games, three of which were lost by one run. That team was the 1993 Atlanta Braves, and it was undone by the Philadelphia Phillies.

The ‘93 Braves trailed the Giants by 10 games in the NL West on July 22, 1993. Those Braves won 49 of their final 65 games and took the division title on the regular season’s final day when Tom Glavine beat Colorado and Salomon Torres lost to the Dodgers.

Of all the great Braves’ teams of the ’90s, that was the greatest. It had the best rotation — Greg Maddux had joined Glavine, John Smoltz and Steve Avery that season — and the best batting order. (You’ll recall that Fred McGriff arrived in July.) It was as close to being invincible as any baseball team ever gets, and yet it lost in October.

Like those Braves, the 2010 Phillies were trying to win a third NL pennant in a row. Like those Braves, these Phillies had an armor-plated top of the rotation — Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels — and a batting order devoid of holes. And these Phillies lost, too. Consensus in Philadelphia was that this was by far the best of the teams that had won the NL East four years running, better even than the 2008 World Champions. On the day the NLCS began, Bill Lyon used the word “dynasty” in the Philadelphia Inquirer to describe these Phillies.

Who then lost in six games.

See, it happens. And not just to the Braves.

Baseball is strange. These Giants didn’t appear all that much better than the Braves — each game of the NLDS was a one-run job — and we’d all seen the Phillies crush the Braves in the late going. And yet the Giants beat the Phillies by outpitching them and outhitting them, too. How many everyday Giants would start for the Phillies? (Maybe Buster Posey at catcher, and I stress that that’s a “maybe.”) And yet where will Game 1 of the Fall Classic be staged?

In AT&T Park, hard by San Francisco Bay. You wouldn’t have guessed it, but there it is. And that’s, as Eddie Haas used to say, baseball.

126 comments Add your comment

TC

October 26th, 2010
1:47 pm

Mark Bradley

October 26th, 2010
1:48 pm

Kudos, TC. And a fast first to boot.

Mr C

October 26th, 2010
1:50 pm

second. Damn. Just like the dawgs, missed first!!!

Mr C

October 26th, 2010
1:53 pm

Bradley, how come AJC hasn’t revisited Teixeira trade. Every prospect that we sent to the Rangers made the team!!! That trade looks awful now!!!

Mark Bradley

October 26th, 2010
1:53 pm

Tomorrow, Mr C.

Michael

October 26th, 2010
1:54 pm

I haven’t been this dis-interested in a World Series since that Marlins-Indians matchup in 97. It’s a shame it couldn’t be the Yankees-Phillies. That would have been epic.

Herschel Talker

October 26th, 2010
1:55 pm

MB:

Mark Teixeira = Len Barker

HT

DCBravosFan

October 26th, 2010
1:56 pm

Nice article, Mark.

I wonder if the friends of the blog who hail from the city of brotherly love will have much to say today

TXDawg (76002)

October 26th, 2010
1:57 pm

top 10?

93Braves were tougher than 2010 Braves and would’ve taken the 2010 Phillies.

DCBravosFan

October 26th, 2010
1:58 pm

Baseball really is a funny game.

As an aside, now that Buster has reached the WS, do you think there is any chance that J-Hey beats him out for Rookie of the Year?

observation

October 26th, 2010
2:07 pm

Chernoff has been making this comparison on their radio show for about a month and half now Bradley…

Good to see you are a listener…

Mark Bradley

October 26th, 2010
2:08 pm

I’m not a listener, observation.

Mark Bradley

October 26th, 2010
2:09 pm

Yes, DCBravosFan. Heyward should win rookie of the year. The voting was concluded before the playoffs.

TomahawkTimmy

October 26th, 2010
2:10 pm

http://pricezack.wordpress.com/2010/10/13/instant-replay-in-baseball-what-is-it-going-to-take/ nice article mark. this is a pretty interesting read about instant replay in baseball

Robards

October 26th, 2010
2:10 pm

DC, the playoffs do not affect who wins the regular season awards. The voters submitted their ballots before the playoffs started. Buster deserves it though, based on a better regular season.

jimmymack

October 26th, 2010
2:16 pm

phillies have no chemistry but a heck of a lot of talent. the braves are a couple of bat’s away.wouldn’t adam dunn look good in a braves uniform?

Zach J

October 26th, 2010
2:18 pm

I’ll tell you one thing, Jeff “El Wet Blanket” Francoeur is no Joe Carter. He’s more like a Nell Carter if you ask me.

Reid Adair

October 26th, 2010
2:18 pm

What’s that old saying about those who forget history are destined to repeat it?

The Phillies would have done well to remember 1993.

Steve

October 26th, 2010
2:21 pm

Mark you don’t think Buster will win ROY? I hope I am wrong but I think he will. Can’t wait for 2011!

Mark Bradley

October 26th, 2010
2:21 pm

I’m not sure remembering 1993 would have helped the Phillies, Reid. I don’t think they overlooked the Giants. I think they just got beat.

jarvis

October 26th, 2010
2:26 pm

These Phillies weren’t unbeatable. I heard it from a great source that they were out of the division race in July. I stopped watching. How did things turn out?

Did the Braves win it all?

Curious George

October 26th, 2010
2:26 pm

Did the 1993 Braves think the World Series was rolling out the “Welcome!” mat for them after residing there the previous two season?

Are Philadelphia Phillies fan more obnoxious than Philadelphia Flyers fans?

How as the local canine population been affected by Mike Vick’s relocation to “The CIty of Brotherly (On the DOWN LOW) Love?”

Does Jeff Francoeur still think he knows everything about hitting and refuses to take instruction?

If Fredi Gonzalez is so respected by, and great at communicating with, Latin & Hispanic players, why did Hanley RAMIREZ refuse to play hard for him and ultimately get him fired from Florida?

Curious George

October 26th, 2010
2:29 pm

Why did my keyboard make so many errors in my last post?

CORRECTION:

Did the 1993 Braves think the World Series was automatically rolling out the “Welcome!” mat for them after they had been residing there the previous two seasons?

Are Philadelphia Phillies fans more obnoxious than Philadelphia Flyers fans?

How has the local canine population been affected by Mike Vick’s relocation to “The CIty of Brotherly (On-the-DOWN-LOW) Love?”

Does Jeff Francoeur still think he knows everything about hitting and refuse to take instruction?

If Fredi Gonzalez is so respected by, and great at communicating with, Latin & Hispanic players, why did Hanley RAMIREZ refuse to play hard for him and ultimately get him fired from Florida?

bruce mac

October 26th, 2010
2:32 pm

Buster didn’t even come up until two months into the season. No comparison between numbers (runs, hits, obp, total bases, etc.) of Jey Hey and Buster. Jey Hey wins easily.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mark Bradley, Adam Beam, Marty Sullivan, Aaron G, Lance Burson and others. Lance Burson said: RT @MarkBradleyAJC: So the 2010 #Phillies were unbeatable? Yeah, just like the 1993 Atlanta #Braves. http://bit.ly/dirk0P [...]

sidslid

October 26th, 2010
2:33 pm

Fred McGriff was doing a radio interview about five years ago. To hear him talk of the 93 Braves and what would have been was riveting. You could still hear the pain in his voice. Justice had a monster year and Gant hit key homers down the stretch. This was probably the best lineup during the run.

gordonguy

October 26th, 2010
2:34 pm

My theory is that baseball is a game of “who’s hot, who’s not.” The Phillies played so hard, and with such intensity for so long that they were bound to lose the edge. That happened to the Braves in the 90s, and has happened to lots of teams. Unfortunately, the season is so long, and the playoffs, too, that it’s tough to maintain the focus and edge for a long, long time.

And unfortunately, I think Buster wins ROY. Heyward was just too streaky, and not quite as flashy (walks aren’t as flashy as hits, though just as important). I think he’ll have much more of an impact as a player as the years go by. He is a real student of the game, a true baseball player. He will be around for a long, long time.

gordonguy

October 26th, 2010
2:35 pm

Oh, and Curious George, there’s a four letter word that describes why Ramirez gave Gonzalez such a hard time – J-E-R-K. He’s a jerk. Maybe if he decides to grow up he’ll become the great ballplayer he should be.

jeffrey d

October 26th, 2010
2:41 pm

Chernoff has been making this comparison on their radio show for about a month and half now Bradley…

For a month and a half, they’ve been talking about how the Phillies’ loss – 3 days ago – is like the 1993 Braves?

DawgDad

October 26th, 2010
2:43 pm

Anything can happen in a short series.

I love the idea of a Texas-SF series. Caught about 30 seconds of ‘Herd bemoaning this on ESPN radio today before I had a chance to flip him off (the radio) and it flat out made my day.

Peter, Paul, and Harry

October 26th, 2010
2:48 pm

The Braves need to pick up Carl Crawford during the offseason and all will be good!

bruce

October 26th, 2010
2:53 pm

Hey Mark, Thanks for the good story… I remember a friend using the phrase… “that’s duckpins” to explain strange occurrences referring to the way a duckpins ball moves unexpectedly.

Wow, was it mighty nice seeing Ryan Howard stand there taking strike 3.

Joked with my wife that it would have been fun to stand outside the stadium after the game selling crying towels for a “dolla” or a dime near where they sell pretzels, water and t-shirts near the septa stop, maybe wearing my wagner red braves tshirt that I did not get to wear in philly as planned… probably would have been picked up by the cops for inciting a riot if I was still alive when they arrived. :)

Thanks for a great season of bravos stories and insights. Bruce

Heath

October 26th, 2010
3:00 pm

Have to root for Texas. The small payroll teams are endearing.

MLB needs to expand their playoffs to 10 or 12 teams before it becomes as irrelevant as soccer in this country. If more teams had a chance of making the postseason, you’d see more interest from cities that can’t afford to have $100 million rosters.

brokeback jacket

October 26th, 2010
3:00 pm

What else is unbeatable is tech’s streak of non-sellouts. Still going strong! And their cheerleaders are still the ugliest in the universe. Congrats, honey bees!!

extremus

October 26th, 2010
3:00 pm

If (Heaven forbid) the Phillies somehow win 14 consecutive division titles and four or five NL championships and just end up having a single World Series championship to show for it, would fans and the city of Philadelphia in particular consider them and Charlie Manuel (who I consider to be a classy, very competent manager) a failure? Of course we all know if they managed to play at that level for that long and still didn’t win another World Series, Manuel would be only the first of a string of managers to be given the boot during that stretch. Atlanta fans may be called fair weather, but Philadelphians would eat Manuel alive if the Phillies don’t win it all again within the next year or two. So for all of the complaints about Bobby Cox and his (sometimes admittedly poor) over the past few years especially from vocal fans in Atlanta, we enjoyed a stability that may not be seen in a pro sports franchise for a LONG time to come, if ever. The caveat of success is that people always expect more; we were blessed to have been able to enjoy what we did for so long, and became jaded over time.

reckingball

October 26th, 2010
3:01 pm

It looks like the “Phillies Juggernaut” blew an engine, yep, slung a rod clear through the oil pan.
But what ever happened to Phillies Class of the NL, Phillies Fan From CA, Phillystien, or the rest of the excretment that called themselves Philly fans, and polluted these AJC blogs.

extremus

October 26th, 2010
3:01 pm

(sometimes admittedly poor) decisions

Sorry about the omission of “decisions” from my last post.

braveslover

October 26th, 2010
3:02 pm

J Hey wasn’t a presence in the lineup as he has too many holes in his swing. Would probably make a fair number 7 hitter as he runs into a homer occasionally. Yea, I know he had an injured thumb for a lot of the season but Posey was great in the playoffs against us and the Marlins had a super rookie and could have the ROY for the third year in a row. My early prediction for next year is Marlins, Phillies (as the old guys make one last gasp effort), Braves (come on Wren spend and upgrade).

Gen Neyland

October 26th, 2010
3:05 pm

There were less than a few tears shed in Atlanta when the Phillies packed it in this year. Couldn’t have happened to a better team, Yankees excluded.

Mr. Turnip-Green Jeans

October 26th, 2010
3:12 pm

Didn’t Eddie Haas bout have a nervous breakdown during his stint? Seriously..

Mr. Turnip-Green Jeans

October 26th, 2010
3:15 pm

I know I bout did~!

DawgDad

October 26th, 2010
3:22 pm

“MLB needs to expand their playoffs to 10 or 12 teams before it becomes as irrelevant as soccer in this country. If more teams had a chance of making the postseason, you’d see more interest from cities that can’t afford to have $100 million rosters.”

They desperately need to wrap up the season by Oct. 25, if not earlier. Start the season earlier with inter-league play in Spring Training or Southern/Western/Dome barnstorm locales (i.e., Puerto Rico, Mexico City, Central/South America, etc.), then let the teams come home April 1. Season should end in mid-September, playoffs should be over already (mid-October to the 20th). Get rid of the DH, after the initial inter-league play everyone plays a balanced schedule.

5150 P.O.A.D

October 26th, 2010
3:23 pm

If San Fran wins they need to say a little thanks to McCann. He basically won the All Star game for the national league and got San Fran Home field Advantage for the first time in years.

59bulldawg

October 26th, 2010
3:26 pm

Fortunes can change in a hurry in this game. After their horrible loss in game 1, how many folks thought Texas would be mentally strong enough to shake it off and handily dispatch the Yanks in 6 games. Low ERAs and high slugging percentages are signs of excellence but there is no statistic for heart. The Braves had it this season. How else can you account for their “never say die” attitude in the face of injury and their 91 wins.

Both the Giants and the Rangers are worthy participants in the 2010 World Series. And even though they lost I still have to give the Phillies their due. They were a hell of a good team. I think in the end, however they may have been a little overconfident and figured they would waltz right through the Giants. Good for the Giants for hanging tough. It’s going to be a fun series!

Eraserhead

October 26th, 2010
3:29 pm

I think the only so called big name prospect, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, plays for the Red Sox. The rest are making huge contributions for the Rangers. That’s how it goes when you trade propects. You really don’t know how it’s going to work out.

Robards

October 26th, 2010
3:37 pm

Bruce Mac, The fact that Buster didn’t come up until two months in and still has about the same power numbers as J-Hey and a higher average is why Buster should win the ROY.

Julio

October 26th, 2010
3:41 pm

You make some great points Mark in comparing those two teams. Out of all the post-season failures, 1993 by far and away hurt the worst. Phillies outplayed us in that series. I didn’t see it coming. They had our number. Every day that September you had to wait for west coast scores to see what the Giants did the night before. I remember us beating Colorado and then the Giants later falling to their nemisis the Dodgers on that last day of the season. Tommy LaSorda would later say, “Now how does it feel Giant fans!” after that game. He was so proud to knock them out. So yep, 1993 still stings. Braves played so great down the stretch to catch them. No wildcard to fall back on either.

You have to give Phillies credit this year. They got hot and passed us right up once they got all the pieces back together. Braves just fell short. Their loss though has to make their fans feel just like it was for us in 1993. And of course, the Giants have to be involved just the same. Nice blog Mark!

GwinnettDad

October 26th, 2010
3:44 pm

@Michael – your comment about the Phillies and New York! An epic? Wasn’t that played out last year? Aren’t you just asking for a re-run? You sound like a typical Yankee fan that wants those big salaries to pay off every year, just like all the TV producers do, in order to make money. Boring. Incredibly boring! I hope you’re not as boring as your opinion above. Marlins vs. the Indians had more stars of the future, and go look at the records those players racked up since, even though almost none of them continued with those two teams. But that’s baseball, local TV contracts determine who can play where, and most the time, they end up in New York, because that’s where the money is.

Mr. Turnip-Green Jeans

October 26th, 2010
3:44 pm

I lost interest in the NBA and NHL when playoffs became an almost-all-inclusive proposition. Why even have a season? Seeding is the only reason I can think of.

Rockdale Brave

October 26th, 2010
3:45 pm

Mark: Interesting reading and comparison of what happened that was so similar after 17 years. I agree that the Giants are not much different than the
Braves but we just did not have enough pitching or position starters left
to beat them in the playoffs. I believe we did win the regular season series.