World Series is 'icing' for Gillick
If GM sticks to word and doesn't return, he leaves Phils a winner
PHILADELPHIA -- If Phillies general manager Pat Gillick is indeed riding off into the sunset for the fourth time in his storied career, he couldn't have picked a better way to go out.
Fifteen years after his Blue Jays defeated the Phillies in the 1993 World Series, he was on the other side of field, as the Phillies won the second World Series title in their 126-season history by defeating the Rays in five games on Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park.Gillick's contract expires on Friday, the day the big parade is planned to head up Broad Street from Center City to the Sports Complex. It will be the Phillies' first championship parade since 1980. "You always want to walk away as a winner," Gillick said as a sellout crowd bellowed in collective glee around him after the Phillies defeated the Rays, 4-3, in the resumption of suspended Game 5 on Wednesday night. "You always want to win. Every time you go out there you want to win. That's what's important to me. Winning like this is kind of special and kind of puts the icing on everything for me." To their chagrin, Gillick has told the Phils he's not coming back in 2009, and he's holding fast to that stance. Instead, Gillick, 71, said he's moving back to Seattle, one of his previous general manager spots, because his wife is living there and the distance has become too great. It's become a pattern in Gillick's tremendous career. He's gone to a place -- Toronto, Baltimore, Seattle and now Philadelphia -- and brought success. And when he leaves, the sunshine of that success seems to leave with him. This is his third World Series victory, following the ultimate success with the Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993. And the Orioles and the Mariners both made it as far as the American League Championship Series under his reign.
A PERFECT HOME RUN
|Since the LCS began in 1969, nine teams have gone undefeated at home in the postseason.|
With the Phillies, he joined a veteran management team that includes general partner Dave Montgomery, chairman Bill Giles and Gillick's adviser Dallas Green.All three were with the club when it defeated the Royals in 1980 and lost to Jays in 1993. Green was the manager of the 1980 team. Montgomery said in the din of the immediate postgame celebration that it will indeed be a sad day if Gillick follows through and leaves the team. It was Gillick, joining manager Charlie Manuel after Larry Bowa was fired in 2004 and Ed Wade was let go in 2005, who helped pull the team together. "Well, we're really very disappointed if that's Pat's decision," Montgomery said. "But at the same time, he gave us three spectacular years. And I know we all learned a lot from him. The fact of the matter is that every move is important and that's exactly what Pat teaches you. It's not just the big moves, it's every move imaginable." Gillick has done this all before. He left the Blue Jays after 18 years and two World Series titles in 1994. He resurfaced with the Orioles in 1996, stayed there three years through two losses in the ALCS and left in 1998. He joined the Mariners for four years in 2000 and presided over teams that lost to the Yankees in the 2000 and 2001 ALCS. His family was in Toronto at the time, and when he left in 2003, it was supposedly for good as a full-time general manager. But in 2006, he had to scratch the itch one more time, and he replaced Wade as GM of the Phillies to take them to the next step into the postseason, which they've done in consecutive years for the first time since 1980-81. The effect of Gillick's effort has been immeasurable. "So far, it's almost impossible to put this in any perspective," Montgomery said. "You can see the fan support. It's unbelievable and we managed to get through the postseason at home undefeated [7-0]. The support is enormous." The key to this season was Gillick acquiring closer Brad Lidge from the Astros last offseason. Lidge saved Wednesday night's finale and was 48-for-48 in save attempts this year, an element the Phillies just didn't have on their 2007 team that was swept by Colorado in its NL Division Series. He added Joe Blanton to the pitching rotation at midseason and Matt Stairs to the bench. Blanton won a pair of postseason games, including Game 4 of the World Series here on Sunday night. Stairs has been used sparingly, but his two-run, pinch-hit homer in the eighth inning of Game 4 of the NLCS helped defeat the Dodgers in Los Angeles. "You really need 25 people in the NL to be competitive," Gillick said. "You need a bench and you need a bullpen. There are a lot of people you have to fill in and there are a lot of people you need to put in the right slots, the right pegs in the right holes. We've been able to do that over the last few years and you saw the culmination of it tonight." Now it has come around full circle. From his Jays beating the Phillies on Joe Carter's walk-off Game 6 homer in 1993 to his Phillies defeating the Rays in the great suspended Game 5 of 2008. Life couldn't be any sweeter. "Does this cap my career? You never know," Gillick said. "Now I'm just worrying about having a good time tonight, visiting with our players. We'll worry about what happens down the line."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.