John Kruk famously said during his playing days, “I’m not an athlete; I’m a baseball player.”
The 1993 Philadelphia Phillies are one of my favorite sports teams of all time, and I am not alone. Even though they lost to the Blue Jays in the World Series, I don't think there's any question which team ended up being more memorable in the long run. And now, with another Phillies season about to begin, the folks at Philadelphia Magazine decided to compile an oral history of the club, featuring the likes of John Kruk, Curt Schilling, Mitch Williams and more:
Frank Coppenbarger: We weren’t accustomed to having a celebration. It had been 10 years since the Phillies won anything. The night we won the division, there was enough champagne and beer on the floor of the clubhouse that you could have floated a canoe.
Read through the whole thing if you really want to get a feel for it. The one name that's glaringly absent from this nostalgiafest is, of course, Lenny Dykstra, who is currently sitting in a jail cell. Dykstra's fall revealed a darker aspect to this lovable crew of boozers and weirdos, and yet my memory of that team remains untarnished.
The reason the '93 Phillies endure is because they served as a great reminder that sports can be FUN. Athletes now are so in shape, so well-trained, that it seems like they take no joy in their work. What fun is winning a game if you have to have a protein smoothie afterwards? The '93 Phillies were the kind of baseball team you wanted your baseball team to be. I wanted to be on that team. I wanted to be beer buddies with Kruker, and cruise bars with Wild Thing. Everyone did.
But that kind of baseball team can't exist anymore. Just ask the 2011 Boston Red Sox. A team like the '93 Phillies would be so overly scrutinized in today's media environment that everything spontaneous and fun about them would be ruined. That's why this town's love for that team -- a love that perhaps eclipses that of the 2008 team that actually won the whole thing -- will never die. You and I both know we'll never see the likes of it again.