pete rose

Pete Rose makes his presence felt as 1980 Phillies take 3-2 series lead over 2008 Phillies

Pete Rose makes his presence felt as 1980 Phillies take 3-2 series lead over 2008 Phillies

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You just knew Pete Rose would be a factor in this series.

Even though he was 39 in 1980 and his peak years were behind him, Rose could still make an impact. He led the National League with 42 doubles — one more than Bill Buckner and Andre Dawson — that season.

So, it was rather fitting that his three-run double in the fourth inning was the big hit in Game 5 of our virtual matchup between the 1980 and 2008 Phillies teams.

Rose's bases-loaded double highlighted a four-run inning and the '80 club went on to win, 5-2, at Veterans Stadium. Larry Christenson was brilliant in pitching a complete-game three-hitter for the '80 club. He struck out nine and beat Cole Hamels, who went six innings and allowed five runs, one of which was unearned.

The series, which pits the only two World Series teams in Phillies history against each other, is being played via Strat-O-Matic computer simulation using actual statistics from the 1980 and 2008 seasons. Rose's virtual bat and Christenson's virtual arm have given the '80 club a three-games-to-two lead in the best-of-seven series.

The '80 club is sitting pretty with Hall of Famer and 1980 NL Cy Young winner Steve Carlton ready to go in Game 6 as the series shifts back to Citizens Bank Park.

Carlton has a chip on his shoulder after being outpitched by Hamels in Game 1. He will oppose Brett Myers, who was lit up in Game 2.

Carlton might not need that chip to beat the '08ers in Game 6. The '08 team's bats have been arctic for most of the series. The three-hit performance in Game 5 left Charlie Manuel's lads with a .168 batting average for the series. 

In Game 2 of the series, Bob Walk held the '08ers to two hits as he went the route for the win. Christenson went the distance on 143 pitches. Throwing that many pitches was not uncommon in those days.

In real life, Christenson was one of the core members of those great Phillies teams of the late-70s. He was the third overall pick in the 1972 draft and debuted in the majors as a 19-year-old. He was a 19-game winner in 1977 and a year later recorded a career-best 3.24 ERA in 228 innings.

Christenson was sidelined by an elbow injury for a good chunk of the 1980 season but came back and pitched well down the stretch and in the NL Championship Series for Dallas Green's club. He was hit hard by Kansas City in his only World Series start in 1980, but all these years later has found redemption thanks to our handy-dandy computer simulation.

The Phillies, pushed by front office executive Bill Giles, signed Rose as a free agent before the 1979 season. Giles believed Rose's intangibles could help the Phillies reach the World Series after painful playoff eliminations in 1976, 1977 and 1978. Rose indeed helped the Phillies get to the Series and win it in 1980 and he was part of another Phillies World Series team in 1983, his last season with the club.

For Phillies fans, those were great memories, and like this virtual Spring Classic, are helping fill our baseball cravings while the game is shut down because of the coronavirus health crisis. Will the '80 Phillies wrap it up behind Carlton in Game 6? Or will the '08 team's bats finally come alive and force a Game 7 in South Philadelphia?

We know you can't wait.

See you Monday.

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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

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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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President Trump enters the endless Pete Rose Hall of Fame debate

President Trump enters the endless Pete Rose Hall of Fame debate

The Houston Astros' cheating scandal has rocked the baseball world, leaving both current and former players questioning the integrity of the great American pasttime. 

It's also re-ignited the debate over former Phillies All-Star Pete Rose, and whether Rose deserves in the National Baseball Hall of Fame after he admitted to betting on games during his 24-year playing career. 

On Saturday afternoon, one notable voice re-entered the fray: President Donald Trump.

Trump tweeted about Rose's exclusion from the Hall of Fame 17 different times before Saturday, which makes his latest assessment of Rose's Hall chances par for the course. This does, however, mark Trump's first tweet about Rose in nearly four years, and his first tweet about Rose since being elected President of the United States in 2016.

He last tweeted about Rose on March 13, 2016, when the former Phillie sent him a baseball during Trump's campaign:

Rose, who was banned for life from Major Leauge Baseball in 1989, has recently tried to use the Astros' scandal as a foil for reinstatement, this week petitioning MLB commissioner Rob Manfred to remove his name from the league's ineligible list.

"There cannot be one set of rules for Mr. Rose and another for everyone else," Rose's petition for reinstatement argues, per ESPN. "No objective standard or categorization of the rules violations committed by Mr. Rose can distinguish his violations from those that have incurred substantially less severe penalties from Major League Baseball."

Rose played for the Phillies from 1979 to 1983, racking up 826 hits and 255 RBI while slashing .291/.365/.361 and landing on four All-Star teams.

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