Manny Trillo, Bake McBride shine as 1980 Phillies throttle '08 Phils in Game 2

Manny Trillo, Bake McBride shine as 1980 Phillies throttle '08 Phils in Game 2


Manny Trillo and Bake McBride are forever linked in the memory of the Phillies' magical postseason run of 1980.

In the decisive fifth game of the National League Championship Series against Houston that year, McBride and Trillo hooked up with Bob Boone on one of the most important defensive plays in franchise history, a brilliant 9-4-2 moment that helped the Phillies of that era finally get over the hump and make it to the World Series.

Forty years after Trillo and McBride helped the '80 Phillies not only reach the World Series but win it, they were at it again in our virtual matchup between the Phillies' World Series championship teams of 2008 and 1980.

Trillo and McBride combined for five of their team's 15 hits as the '80 club bounced back from a loss in Game 1 to lay a 11-0 beating on the '08 club in Game 2 at Citizens Bank Park.

The best-of-seven series is being played via Strat-O-Matic computer simulation, based on actual statistics from the 1980 and 2008 seasons.

The '08 team, with Cole Hamels starring on the mound and at the plate, rallied with some timely hitting to beat 1980 Cy Young winner Steve Carlton, 4-2, in Game 1 of the series.

But the '08 bats were arctic in Game 2. The '08ers had just two hits, a double by catcher Carlos Ruiz in the bottom of the third inning and a single from reliever Clay Condrey in the bottom of the sixth.

Of course, the '80 team's pitching had something to do with the '08 team's hitting woes. Bob Walk, a rookie who came up and won 11 games for the '80 team, overcame five walks and struck out nine while going the distance for the shutout.

On the other side, '08 starter Brett Myers was rocked for seven hits, including homers by McBride and Trillo, and seven runs in 2⅓ innings. Trillo's three-run homer in the third inning was the game's big blow. McBride had three hits and two RBIs.

Both of these teams — the only two World Series champions in the franchise's 137-year history — were filled with homegrown stars.

The 2008 team had Hamels, Myers, Ruiz, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Ryan Madson.

The 1980 team had Boone, Mike Schmidt, Larry Bowa, Greg Luzinski and Lonnie Smith with pitchers Walk and Marty Bystrom coming up from the minors to help that season.

Both teams benefited from the contributions of players who were acquired from other clubs. The '08ers had Shane Victorino, Jamie Moyer, Jayson Werth, Joe Blanton, Matt Stairs and others. The '80 club had Dick Ruthven, originally a Phillie who was traded away then returned, Pete Rose, Del Unser and, of course, Trillo and McBride, the stars of Game 2 of our Spring Classic.

McBride had come over in a trade with St. Louis in 1977 and played through 1981 with the Phils. He was 31 in 1980 and had probably his best season in the majors, hitting .309 with nine homers and a career-high 87 RBIs. He struck out just 58 times in 554 at-bats in 1980. Making contact was still prioritized in those days.

Trillo was originally signed by the Phillies out of Venezuela in 1968. He was a catcher in those days but converted to infield at the suggestion of his first minor-league manager, a guy named Dallas Green. 

The Phillies lost Trillo to Oakland in the minor-league draft in 1969. He played with the A's and then the Cubs before the Phillies picked him up in a trade before the 1979 season. By this time, Trillo was 28 and one of the best defensive second basemen in baseball. Reunited with Green, now the Phillies manager, Trillo hit .292 with seven homers and 43 RBIs in 1980. He hit .381 with two doubles, a huge triple and four RBIs on his way to being named MVP of the 1980 NLCS.

Trillo, a three-time Gold Glover, did more than hit in that classic NLCS against Houston. In the second inning of the deciding fifth game, he teamed with McBride and Boone on a defensive play that is still revered in Phillies lore. With Luis Pujols on first base, McBride sprinted into the right-field corner at the Astrodome to retrieve a ball off the bat of Craig Reynolds. McBride fired a strike to Trillo, who showed off his laser arm with a strike to home plate. Boone made the tag. Later in the game, Trillo clubbed a two-run triple and the Phillies went on to win the game and the series with the help of a big hit by Garry Maddox in the 10th.

This is a big year for Trillo. Forty years after winning it all in 1980, he is slated to be added to the Phillies' Wall of Fame in August. It's not certain if baseball will be back by then or what it will look like if it is. The game is on hold because of the coronavirus health crisis. That's why we are playing this virtual World Series between the Phillies' only two title teams. It's not the real thing, but it's sure fun to hear and write about all these great names again.

After two games, the series all tied up at a game apiece. The 2008 team has just seven hits in the first two games and the Game 3 assignment is not an easy one with Ruthven, a 17-game winner in 1980, ready to take the ball for his club. Moyer will start for the '08ers. Who ya got?

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2020 Phillies schedule: Looking at long list of elite pitchers Phillies will face in 2020

2020 Phillies schedule: Looking at long list of elite pitchers Phillies will face in 2020

Bryce Harper spent the bulk of his video press conference last Friday discussing the unprecedented circumstances surrounding this 2020 MLB season. There were a lot of questions about health protocols, social distancing and doubt from some players that attempting to play this season is actually the right decision.

Harper talked a little baseball too. And one answer towards the end of the press conference stood out. 

He was asked whether he felt he'd have enough time in a three-week training camp featuring just three exhibition games to adequately prepare for the season. 

Harper acknowledged it would be a challenge, particularly given the Phillies’ regular season schedule.    

"East vs. East, are you kidding me?" Harper said of his team's 60-game slate consisting of solely NL East and AL East opponents. "We're going to face a lot of good teams, a lot of good organizations, a lot of good pitching. I went down each roster and was thinking to myself there could be 14 Cy Youngs in this East vs. East. I mean, that's crazy."

Harper's math is spot on. 

I identified 12 starting pitchers that the Phillies could face this season who have either won a Cy Young or are capable of pitching at a Cy Young level.

And if you add a pair of Harper's teammates — Aaron Nola, who finished third in the NL Cy Young voting in 2018, and Jake Arrieta, who won the NL Cy Young in 2015 — that brings the grand total of Cy Young caliber pitchers in this East vs. East format to ... 14. 

Just like Harper said. 

Let's run through all the big arms the Phillies could face in 2020. 

After a season-opening three-game series against the Marlins, the Phillies play four straight games against the Yankees. They'll almost certainly face Gerrit Cole and James Paxton during that four-game stretch. Cole, who signed a $324 million contract with New York in the offseason, is generally regarded as the most dominant starting pitcher in baseball. Paxton is fully recovered from a back injury in the spring and has been among the top starters in the American League over the last six years.

The Phillies get their first look at the Braves a week later. Atlanta's rotation features 22-year-old ace Mike Soroka and 36-year old veteran Cole Hamels. Soroka posted a 2.68 ERA in 29 starts last season, finishing sixth in the NL Cy Young voting and second in the NL Rookie of the Year race behind the Mets' Pete Alonso. Hamels has finished in the top 10 of the Cy Young voting four times in his career and remains an elite starter when healthy. 

The Mets come to town in mid-August, led by two-time reigning NL Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom. New York's rotation also includes Marcus Stroman, who finished in the Top 10 of the AL Cy Young voting three years ago and finished with a 3.22 ERA in 32 starts last season. 

The Phillies don't play the Nationals until late August. But their 10 games against Washington will feature a heavy dose of three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer, World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin, who finished fifth in the NL Cy Young race two years ago and 11th in the voting last season. 

If there's a team that has a “Big 3” comparable to the Nationals, it may be the Rays, who the Phillies visit in a three-game series to end the season. Blake Snell, Charlie Morton and Tyler Glasnow highlight Tampa Bay's rotation. Snell won the 2018 AL Cy Young, Morton finished third in the 2019 AL Cy Young race, and Glasnow is an emerging star who posted a 1.78 ERA in 12 starts last season.


But there is a silver lining — the Phillies don't have to worry about Chris Sale, Luis Severino or Noah Syndergaard. They're all out for the season with injuries. 

Nonetheless, the Phillies' bats better be ready from the outset. They'll be put to the test early and often. 

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Bryce Harper has earned right to speak his mind on J.T. Realmuto's contract status

Bryce Harper has earned right to speak his mind on J.T. Realmuto's contract status

Bryce Harper provided the first memorable moment of Phillies summer camp on Wednesday afternoon. 

It wasn’t with a swing or a web gem, but rather it was two words that has everyone talking.

“Sign him!” 

That’s what Harper exclaimed as he returned to the dugout following a home run by J.T. Realmuto in an intrasquad game. 

Harper can claim to be a five-tool player, but you might be able to add a sixth tool to the arsenal because he’s been as effective a representative for Realmuto in contract negotiations as Jeff Berry, Realmuto’s agent. 

In addition to Wednesday’s on-field statement, Harper donned a t-shirt with Realmuto’s name and number during his initial workouts at Citizens Bank Park earlier this month. While Harper denied sending a message to the front office with his wardrobe, he did acknowledge that it would be “terrible and sad” if the Phillies were to lose Realmuto in free agency this offseason. 

If you want to argue that Harper’s actions and statement are an admirable attempt to help a teammate to a large pay day, that’s fair. It’s also likely that Harper views retaining Realmuto as the best path towards contention for the ballclub. 

The Phillies would be naive if they did not expect Harper to have a significant voice in team construction when they inked him to a 13-year, $330 million deal last year. Although it’s fair to assume they would prefer if Harper wasn’t hurting their negotiating position.  

Either way, a player of Harper’s stature and salary certainly has the right to speak his mind on roster matters.  

Let’s say Realmuto and the Phillies agree to a record-setting contract extension for a catcher. That would make the All-Star backstop the third nine-figure player on the Phillies’ payroll (Harper and Zack Wheeler). Keep in mind, this is an organization without a winning season since 2011 and that looks to be several key pieces away from true contention. 

Who knows where the Phillies will find themselves four years down the road? It’s possible Harper and Realmuto will have taken a late October ride or two down Broad Street in that time. It’s also possible that the club will have failed to take the next step in their development, the young pieces never reaching the level needed to contend. At that stage, the club could lack the flexibility to improve due its significant financial obligations. 

If the latter happens, let’s be clear: Harper has forfeited the right to justifiably complain about a perceived lack of commitment or a feeling of being misled about the intentions of ownership. It might be hyperbole to suggest the former NL MVP is forcing the Phillies’ hand with Realmuto, but he’s certainly making it known how he wants the team built. 

Harper does not appear to be that type of person that will turn on the Phillies if things do not go as hoped, but we’ve all been down this road before with unhappy superstars across the sporting landscape. 

It might not be an issue for today, but there’s a chance that day just may come.  

Stay tuned.

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