ESPN senior baseball writer Jayson Stark, author of the new book "Worth the Wait: Tales of the 2008 Phillies," drops in to answer the first in a series of softball questions.
Beerleaguer: Why did the Phillies win the World Series? Briefly explain the philosophy, performances and decisions that formed the foundation for a champion.
Jayson Stark: Thanks for the easy opening question. BRIEFLY sum up why this team won the World Series? How do I do that? It took a whole book to explain that. But here, I think, was the biggest thing: I said on ESPN 950 last year this time, that coming out of spring training, that team had win-the-World-Series upside. What we didn't know then was that they'd have enough pitching to pull that off. But beyond how their staff stayed amazingly healthy, an even bigger factor was this: The incredible sense of purpose they played with in September and October.
Unlike the Cubs, who were swallowed by the pressures of trying to rewrite their history, this group of Phillies almost used the quest to put their stamp on franchise history as fuel. It's almost unheard of for a team to talk out loud about doing that, while it's in the midst of a grueling run through October. But this team did. They were a team on a mission, and it showed.
Look, obviously, a lot of things broke right for them. But it was more than that. I was talking with one GM the other day as his team was playing the Phillies, and he was complaining about how he had no leaders on his team. The team the won the World Series certainly didn't have that problem. The leadership the Phillies get from Chase Utley in his own way, Jimmy Rollins in his own way, Jamie Moyer in his own way, etc., makes them unique. And it sure showed up last October.
Tune in next time when Jayson summarizes the last decade of Philllies baseball in 100 words or less, then segues into a critique on the history or religion, which I've asked Jayson to send via text message.
Book signing: Jayson will be signing copies of his book Sunday at 11 a.m. at Bright House Field in Clearwater.