These fingers have typed more than a few World Series previews over the years, but never one quite like this.
Are you ready for Phillies 1980 vs. Phillies 2008?
The local nine has been at this thing called baseball for 137 seasons and in that time has stood atop the sport twice.
Now, we know that's not exactly a stellar percentage, but for practical purposes during these unprecedented times, the Phils are perfect for a one-time showdown to crown the champion of champions.
And, thanks to our friends at Strat-O-Matic, this is exactly what we'll have for you over the next week or so as we continue to look for ways to feed our sports cravings during the shutdown caused by the coronavirus health crisis.
Starting Wednesday, which seems right because it's the day baseball tips its cap to the great Jackie Robinson, we will begin a series between the Phillies' 1980 World Series championship team and the Phillies' 2008 World Series championship team. John Garcia of Strat-O-Matic has graciously agreed to run a computer simulation of the series, using exact statistics from the two seasons, and we can't wait to chronicle the daily results and see how it unfolds. Either way, there will be a parade in Philadelphia. Just make sure it's in your living room, six feet away from others.
Use your imagination and think about how cool this series will be.
It will feature two of the most popular and colorful managers in team history, Dallas Green and Charlie Manuel.
It will feature the best first baseman (Ryan Howard), second baseman (Chase Utley), third baseman (Mike Schmidt) and shortstop (Jimmy Rollins) in franchise history.
It will feature four league MVPs in Schmidt, Rollins, Howard and Pete Rose. Schmidt won the first of his three NL MVP awards in 1980. He led the NL in homers (48) and RBIs (121) that year. Howard, the NL MVP in 2006, finished second in the voting in 2008 while leading the league in homers (48) and RBIs (146).
The series will feature the two greatest left-handed pitchers in franchise history in four-time Cy Young winner Steve Carlton and 2008 postseason hero Cole Hamels.
It will feature switch-hitters with big personalities and great defensive skills (Larry Bowa and Shane Victorino), another switch-hitter whose bat produced more knocks that anyone in the history of the game (Rose), bullpen aces (Tug McGraw and Brad Lidge), pinch-hitting stars (Del Unser and Matt Stairs), a couple of role players who emerged as studs (Bake McBride and Jayson Werth) and it will be played at two venues, Veterans Stadium and Citizens Bank Park.
Though the teams shared the ultimate similarity — a World Series title — there were differences. The 1980 team was on its last legs. The core of that team had stumbled in the playoffs in 1976, 1977 and 1978 and management was primed to break it up if it didn't get over the hump in 1980. Conversely, the 2008 team was still early in a run that saw the franchise win five NL East titles from 2007 to 2011.
Both teams won the NL East in close races with charges down the stretch, the 1980 Phillies by a game over Montreal, the 2008 Phillies by three over the New York Mets.
The 2008 Phillies went 92-70 so they get home-field advantage in this Spring Classic against the 1980 Phillies, who went 91-71.
So, who you got?
"That depends on who's pitching," Bowa, a key man on the 1980 team, said in real time. "I've got no idea. There's a lot of good players there."
"I'm definitely not picking them," he added with a laugh. "I think it will be a really good series."
And how 'bout you, Charlie Manuel?
"I've actually had this conversation with Bowa, who would win a series between the two teams," the 2008 skipper said in real time. "The '80 team had some great players, established players, and we had some young stars who were coming into their own. That was a hell of team in 1980, but at the same time, I've got to give my guys the edge.
"I'll be interested to see how it turns out. And you better not put any losses on me, man."
Strat-O-Matic has been a favorite of baseball fans since it was born in 1961. It uses real-life statistics and probabilities to project outcomes and it's a heck of a lot of fun.
So without further ado, let's play this thing. We'll post the results daily.