Saturday, September 29, 2012

1980 World Series: Finally for the Phillies

The Teams
National League: Philadelphia Phillies (91-71) - Third World Series
American League: Kansas City Royals (97-65) - First World Series

What Happened
The Phillies and Royals had a lot in common in the mid to late 1970s. They were the teams that kept winning their division, only to lose out in the playoffs to superior opponents. In 1980, they both finally broke through to make it to the World Series. Both were led offensively by future Hall of Fame third basemen; the Phillies had Mike Schmidt, who won the 1980 NL MVP after leading the league in home runs and runs batted in, while the Royals had George Brett, who chased a .400 average all summer before settling in at .390 and winning his own league's MVP award.

The Phillies and Royals finally got to experience the World Series in 1980, and both were trying for their first championship. For the Royals, that wasn't saying much, as they had existed only since 1969. But for the Phillies, it was almost beyond belief. They had existed as a National League franchise since 1883 but had never won the championship. It's not like they had a lot of chances, either, as they had only been to the series twice before making it in 1980.

The two start third basemen were the story for most of the series, though Brett probably would have preferred not to be during the first two games. He had a much-publicized case of hemorrhoids that got bad enough that he had to take himself out of Game 2. Meanwhile, the Phillies came from behind to win each of the first two games in Philadelphia, including a four-run eighth inning to beat Kansas City closer Dan Quisenberry in Game 2.

In Game 3, with Brett healed from emergency hemorrhoid surgery and Schmidt close enough to the title that he could smell it, the third basemen took over. Brett and Schmidt both homered in Game 3, a game the Royals won on a 10th inning single by Willie Aikens, who was having a monster series thus far for Kansas City. Brett and Aikens continued their play in Game 4 - Brett tripled and Aikens homered in the first inning of Game 4, then Aikens homered again in the second inning to provide the final margin for a Kansas City win.

The series turned in Game 5. Schmidt's early two-run home run gave the Phillies a 2-0 lead, but the Royals fought back to take a 3-2 lead into the top of the ninth. Schmidt led off the ninth with a single off Quisenberry and came around to score two pitches later on a double by Del Unser. The Phillies later took the lead, then turned the ball over to their closer, Tug McGraw. McGraw sandwiched three walks around two outs, giving the Royals hope before striking out Jose Cardenal to end the game.

With the first road win of the series under their belt, the Phillies took no time to put their foot down on the Royals' necks. Schmidt's bases-loaded single put the Phillies up 2-0 in the third, and Steve Carlton, who had been the Phillies' ace for a decade, took over from there. He pitched into the 8th before turning over to McGraw. The Royals took advantage of McGraw's wildness to load the bases in both the 8th and the 9th, but they only came away with 1 run in those two innings. The bases were loaded when Willie Wilson struck out to end the series and give the Phillies their first championship in 97 years of play.

Schmidt was all over the 1980 World Series. Along with his two home runs were the two key rallies he started in games 5 and 6 and the great defense he played. It was a situation where the teams' best player came up bit when it mattered most.

(Home team shaded; winners in Bold)

Kansas City64 4 (10)531
Philadelphia 763344

The List
I'm ranking all the World Series, from worst to best. Here are the ones I've done so far:

22. 1980 - Philadelphia (N) def. Kansas City (A) 4-2
23. 1911 - Philadelphia (A) def. New York (N) 4-2
24. 1915 - Boston (A) def. Philadelphia (N) 4-1
25. 1971 - Pittsburgh (N) def. Baltimore (A) 4-3
26. 1918 - Boston (A) def. Chicago (N) 4-2
27. 1988 - Los Angeles (N) def. Oakland (A) 4-1
28. 1946 - St. Louis (N) def. Boston (A) 4-3
29. 1925 - Pittsburgh (N) def. Washington (A) 4-3
Numbers 30-39
Numbers 40-49
Numbers 50-59
Numbers 60-69
Numbers 70-79
Numbers 80-89
Numbers 90-99
Numbers 100-107

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