Will the Phils be repeaters?
It surely won't take the Philadelphia Phillis another century to win their next World Series. they could conceivably, in fact, come right back again next year. but all it takes is a quick look at the roster to see that the machine is going to need a fairly major overhaul before long.
"This team is approaching a critical point in age," Manager Dallas Green said last spring in the "do it this year or else" speech that launched the Phillies on what turned out to be the most glorious year in the history of the franchise. And even though they are savoring the top spot now after their victory over Kansas City, that hard fact remains.
Pete Rose will be 40, and starting his 19th big league season next spring. He stillmakes big plays and exerts leadership, as he showed in the series, but as a day-to-day player he is no longer the force he once was.
Shortstop Larry Bowa, 24-game winner Steve Carlton, and relief ace Tug McGraw are other stars who have been around so long one has to wonder how many more good years they have left. Catcher Bob Boone and left fielder Greg Luzinski, though younger, are basically in the same category because of their many recent injuries. And 17-game winner Dick Ruthven, the only consistent starter behind Carlton, has had enough arm problems to make him a question mark as well.
Of course there's still a nucleus of younger veterans, but the key to continued success lies in the rookies and minor league players. Even in the midst of a pennant race, Green worked the amazingly high number of four first-year players into significant action. Outfielder Lonnie Smith played in 100 games and hit .339. Keith Moreland batted .314 as Boone's backup. Bob Walk gave an early boost to the pitching staff, winning eight of his firt nine decisions. Late arrival Marty Bystrom was 5-0 in September. And all four made additional contributions in the playoffs, the World Series, or both.
Thus the Phillies actually pulled off the unusual feat of starting to rebuild and winning the world championship in the same year. They'll have to continue getting production from this quartet and probably at least one or two newcomers as well if they hope to repeat.
One more question is who will be at the helm. Green, a career front office man, indicated all along that he didn't want to stay in the field job very long -- and in fact might move right back to his old front office job if the team won it all this year. A good guess, however, might be that the euphoria of this season and the chance of making it two in a row will tempt him back for one more year. Royals more likely repeaters
Ironically, the Royals, who looked at times like a team that didn't belong in the World Series, are more likely to make it back next year. First, they have an easier road to the playoffs in the weak American League East Division. Second, they are basically a young team that figures to keep improving.
Almost all Kansas city regulars and two of the top pitchers (Dennis Leonard and Dan Quisenberry) are in their 20s. Hal McRae and Amos Otis, in fact, are the only two regulars who may not have too many years left -- and the way they hit in the series, neither of them looks ready to pack it in just yet. The Frank and Manny Show
One of the lasting memories from this year's Series is the combined defensive show put on by Frank White and Manny Trillo.
The speedy White ranged far and wide to both sides to turn numerous potential ground ball singles into outs, and also made two memorable catches. In Game 3 with two on and one out in the 10th, Mike Schmidt lashed an apparent run-scoring single over second base for Philadelphia, only to have White swoop in, catch the sinking line drive at his shoetops, and turn it into a rally-killing double play. In Game 5, Frank raced into short right field to make an incredible over-the-shoulder catch of Bob Boone's apparent bloop hit and double off baserunner Larry Bowa.
Trillo was also sharp, if not as spectacular as his rival, but where Manny really showed his stuff was when he got a chance to use his fabulous arm. The big moment came in the sixth inning of Game 5, when his perfect relay throw nailed Darrell Porter trying to score from first on Willie wilson's double -- a play that took KC out of a potential big inning.
Several veteran Series-goers were calling the combined play of these two the best they could recall, but former New York Yankee shortstop and current NBC telecaster Tony Kubek said he would still rank the 1960 duel of teammate Bobby Richardson and Pittsburgh's Bill Mazeroski right up there with it.
"All people remember about those guys in that Series is the offense," Kubek said. "Richardson had all those RBIs [Series records of 6 in one game and 12 for the Series], and of course Mazeroski hit the famous home run that won the last game. But they put on quite a show in the field, too. They got a lot of chances, and they made some very big plays on tough dirt infields."
The statistics bear Tony out. Mazeroski handled 37 chances flawlessley, while Richardson had a record 28 assists plus 21 putouts, though he was also charged with a pair of errors -- as was White this year.
"You really can't compare such things 20 years apart," Kubek said. "It's dirt fields vs. artificial turf. and you're making subjective judgments. White's faster than any of the others, but it's hard to tell about such things as quickness, sure-handedness, arms, etc. All you can say is that each pair put on quite a show in its own time." Philadelphia: city of winners
It's been happening for quite a while, of course, but this year's World Series put the exclamation point on the fact that Philadelphia is now the nation's unchallenged No. 1 city in terms of combined success in the four major professional team sports. The 76ers and Flyers reached the pro basketball and hockey finals last spring, and now the Eagles have the best record in pro football (7-1) at the halfway point of the NFL season.