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The 2019 Historical Phillies Madness Tournament: The Elite Eight and Final Four

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Benito Santiago Phillies

Things are getting serious now. The herd of 64 has thinned to 16

Round 4: Division Series

Left Half

1990 (77-85) vs. 1981 (59-48)

1990: d. 1961, 4-0; d. 1989, 4-2; d. 2003, 4-3
1981: d. 1962, 4-2; d. 1983, 4-2; d. 2013, 4-3

1981 wins, 4 to 3 (2-3, 6-8, 5-4, 6-5, 0-3, 7-3, 7-1)
Series MVP: Manny Trillo, 1981 (.357/.424/.571, 1 HR, 8 RBI)

The 1990 squad lead Game 3, 4-2, after five innings, threatening to go up 3 games to 0. In the sixth, though, Pat Combs’s control failed him, and he walked home a run to draw the 1990 squad within one. In the eighth, Manny Trillo knotted things up with an RBI single, which locked the two teams into extra innings, where Pete Rose delivered a walk-off single in the twelfth to bring the ‘81 club back into the series.

In Game 4, it was more of the same. 1990 held a 5-3 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh after John Kruk’s two-run homer in the top half broke a 3-3 tie. The ‘81 team quickly responded, with Trillo driving in two with a double and re-tying the game. In the bottom of the ninth, with the game still tied at 5, Larry Bowa drew a bases-loaded walk — shrimp! — to tie the series at two apiece. Despite a Game 5 loss, the ‘81 team’s pitching carried them the rest of the way and into the Final Four, where they’ll take on the winner of our next series.

2010 (97-65) vs. 1969 (63-99)

2010: d. 2000, 4-1; d. 1976, 4-2; d. 1966, 4-1
1969: d. 1968, 4-1; d. 2017, 4-3; d. 2004, 4-3

2010 wins, 4 to 2 (4-0, 4-2, 1-3, 2-4, 8-3, 5-3)
Series MVP: Chase Utley, 2010 (.381/.536/.714, 2 HR, 8 RBI)

A team known more for its powerful offense than its pitching depth got some sterling work from its bullpen: Ryan Madson was the only reliever to permit a run, and he allowed only one. Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels each posted two great starts across Games 1, 2, 5, and 6, and Chase Utley drove in one third of the team’s entire offensive output in the series.

Larry Hisle and Mike Ryan were the only regular hitters to do damage against the ‘10 pitching staff, and the bullpen frequently couldn’t keep games close.

Right Half

1996 (67-95) vs. 2011 (86-76)

1996: d. 1998, 4-2; d. 1963, 4-3; d. 1958, 4-1
2011: d. 2018, 4-2; d. 1997, 4-0; d. 1999, 4-1

1996 wins, 4 to 2 (1-0, 3-1, 2-7, 3-7, 3-2, 3-2)
Series MVP: Mickey Morandini, 1996 (.550/.591/.800, 3 RBI

The 1996 club hit only two home runs in these six games, but the ‘11 pitchers simply couldn’t keep Mickey Morandini off the basepaths. That’s not to say the pitchers really faltered — 1996, despite winning the series, never scored more than 3 in any game — the way the offense did.

They came close, though. Very close. In the bottom of the ninth in Game 6, Wilson Valdez was thrown out at home as the potential game-tying run to end the series. The sensation that comes with typing that sentence feels like it encapsulates Valdez’s entire real-life Phillies tenure. Onward the 1996 team goes to meet the winner of...

1977 (81-81) vs. 1993 (97-65)

1977: d. 1975, 4-0; d. 2005, 4-0; d. 1978, 4-0
1993: d. 1959, 4-2; d. 2001, 4-2; d. 1980, 4-3

1993 wins, 4 to 2 (2-7, 11-2, 2-13, 4-3, 3-1, 7-6)
Series MVP: Lenny Dykstra, 1993 (.346/.393/.577, 1 HR, 7 RBI)

So, ‘93 Dykstra is unstoppable. That’s three MVPs in four series for Nails. And despite two rough games, the pitching staff held it together down the stretch. Taking down a previously undefeated team in six games will not pit ‘93 against the upstart ‘96 squad that probably shouldn’t stand a chance.

But, hey, they got this far! Let’s see if they keep up their underdog run.


Round 5: League Championship Series

1981 (59-48) vs. 2010 (97-65)

1981: d. 1962, 4-2; d. 1983, 4-2; d. 2013, 4-3; d. 1990, 4-3
2010: d. 2000, 4-1; d. 1976, 4-2; d. 1966, 4-1; d. 1969, 4-2

1981 wins, 4 to 1 (7-1, 9-5, 4-1, 1-5, 2-1)
Series MVP: Mike Schmidt, 1981 (.400/.429/.900, 3 HR, 6 RBI)

Pete Rose singled home Lonnie Smith with the go-ahead run in the top of the 8th in Game 5, and the ‘81 team is our first finalist. The two Steve Carlton/Roy Halladay duels in Games 1 and 5 were a bit of a mixed bag: In Game 1, Mike Schmidt tagged Doc for two dingers, though the game was close before Antonio Bastardo imploded in the 8th. In Game 5, Carlton homered off Halladay, and the game was tied at 1 until Rose’s decisive single.

The explosive 2010 offense managed only 13 runs in the five games, and Ryan Howard went just 3-for-22 with no extra-base hits. Manny Trillo continued his good play with an 8-for-18 series, and Garry Maddox added two home runs.

1996 (67-95) vs. 1993 (97-65)

1996: d. 1998, 4-2; d. 1963, 4-3; d. 1958, 4-1; d. 2011, 4-2
1993: d. 1959, 4-2; d. 2001, 4-2; d. 1980, 4-3; d. 1977, 4-2

1996 wins, 4 to 2 (2-0, 6-8, 2-7, 6-4, 5-1, 3-2)
Series MVP: Benito Santiago, 1996 (.480/.519/.560, 5 RBI)

Well, this is ridiculous. The 1996 team, a 95-loss mess that finished last in the division in real baseball, beat one of the absolute greatest Phillies teams ever and a World Series participant in consecutive rounds. Starting pitching did most of the heavy lifting in these six games, but it was Gregg Jefferies and Todd Zeile who provided the ultimate drama in the clinching game.

And so the ultimate Phillies Cinderella has just one more team standing in their way: The 1981 Not-Quite-Wheeze Kids.

Final series recaps coming soon.