Leave it to Curt Schilling to come up with the line of the day as the Phillies celebrated the 25th anniversary of their 1993 National League Championship on Sunday.
The boys on that team played hard, on and off the field. They got into some trouble then … and some of them continue to do so now.
“That team today,” Schilling said, “we’d have to play our home games at Leavenworth and wear ankle bracelets on the road to travel. That was as politically incorrect a group of human beings that’s ever existed in the game. And it was fun.”
Lenny Dykstra was one of the stars of that 1993 team. He was not invited to the celebration because the team believed his post-career scrapes with the law would have been a distraction. Dykstra did not protest the team’s decision. Mitch Williams declined the team’s invite. Darren Daulton, the undisputed leader of the club, died last summer. He was preceded in death by manager Jim Fregosi and beloved coaches John Vukovich and Johnny Podres.
“It’s tough not to have everybody here,” Schilling said. “It’s tough not to have Dutch and the coaches. Life moves at a very unique pace when you look back on it. Unfortunately for Lenny … I’ve actually been in contact with him quite a bit in the past couple months and years. He’s still struggling. He’s battling. He’s had issues and he’s probably the first to take accountability for those things. It’s unfortunate, but it’s more proof that we’re not really different than anybody else other than what our day jobs were.”
Schilling said losing the 1993 World Series to the Toronto Blue Jays on Joe Carter’s famous home run did not leave a void in his career. (Of course, he went on to win three World Series rings with Arizona and Boston.)
“I never looked at it as a void,” he said. “I looked at it as I was part of something. I had the privilege of being involved in three of the most amazing postseasons in baseball history, ‘93 with Joe Carter, ‘01 with the Yankees and (Diamondbacks) and ‘04 with the Red Sox. I don’t use words like ‘void’ because there’s something in everything. It sucked (that the Phillies lost in 1993) but I got to witness one of the greatest moments in the history of the game.
“If you look back at that Blue Jays team, that was a ridiculously good team. I still think we should have won that World Series. I really do. They earned it, but I think the 15-14 game (Game 4) was a backbreaker for us. But what an amazing experience.”
Schilling was a backbone starting pitcher on the Red Sox team that snapped an 86-year World Series drought with a title in 2004.
Gabe Kapler, the first-year Phillies manager, was also on that team.
Schilling and Kapler are still close. They stay in touch via text. They talk ball. They spoke at length on Saturday.
As always, Schilling was frank in discussing Kapler. He brought up the manager’s decision to remove a cruising Aaron Nola from his opening day start at 68 pitches. Kapler has eased up on his pitching moves since then.
“He was a great teammate,” Schilling said of Kapler. “A phenomenal teammate, a consummate teammate, a workaholic. I’ve been texting him all year, just been in his ear a little bit, trying to find out from my side what it’s like, what he’s going through and stuff like that. The thing I told people after opening day — I was laughing because I’m a pitcher. So I was offended when he was taking his pitcher out after five or six innings. But he’s not going to make the same mistakes twice. I think that’s a huge thing. He’s accountable.
“There’s some (Terry) Francona in him from a manager perspective. Terry used to say you’re fired the day you’re hired. They just don’t put that date on your contract. So if you know that going in, you do things your way, which I think Kap is doing. He’s a sponge. He’s always looking for something different and something new. He’s very much on the analytics side of everything and I think he’ll find that middle ground at some point, where every decision won’t be based on exactly what the numbers tell you what you should do in this situation because there’s a gut feel to it and I think it takes time.”
Schilling said he wants to get into coaching.
Would he be interested in donning the red pinstripes again?
“Absolutely,” he said. “This is one of the few jobs in the big leagues I would have taken.”