“It’s pretty special, I’m very lucky to have spent so many years with the Phillies, not many players can say that.”
Of the 900 million people to ever play professional baseball, only 100,000 have been Philadelphia Phillies. [EDITOR'S NOTE: I don't think I need to explain that these numbers seem to have been pulled out of thin air, and are at best grossly inaccurate.]
Obviously, these players have been far superior to all others. Sure, they may have been bad; in a historical or even universal context. But they wore Phillies uniforms while they did it, and that made them great. Why? Because the Phillies are the team we like.
John Kruk, during his own Wall of Fame induction, spoke of playing in Philly as if he had survived a terrifying urban gambit.
“You hear folks, media people, say that it’s tough to play in Philly in front of these fans. To those people I say, you didn’t have the guts to succeed here.”
It’s plenty true that Mike Lieberthal, or “Lieby,” as I do not remember calling him, had guts. The trouble was, by the end of his career, they were mostly caked on and around home plate in Veteran Stadium; the ones that weren’t still hanging out of him.
There aren’t too many Phillies from Lieberthal’s era that have claim to the Wall in Ashburn Alley. There are none, really. Maybe they sent Scott Rolen an invite as a joke. But the truth is, putting Lieberthal up there sort covers the ’94-’07 era in its entirety; he gets us from Macho Row to Brett Myers hurling his glove in the air. His name may not be uttered in the same breath as Carlton and Schmidt, but I don’t think we really need to debate his legitimacy.
And, being the brunt of punishment for most of career, the guy got pretty habitually fucked up, to the extent that it was good to see him make his way out to the podium without the aid of an iron lung. He was the kind of guy who would continue giving an in depth explanation of his hitting strategy for each at-bat of the game while his entire face was covered in pie-cream and warning Harry Kalas, “I’m not going to open my eyes.”
…sort of giving him a horrible “Jim Henson Studios” vibe for the remainder of the interview.
So, kudos to Mike for surviving the weekend without getting brutalized in the knee-area, and for being pretty much relegated to the symbol of Phillies failure and mediocrity during a weekend in which he was being honored for being so good.