If only the Phillies would have selected Rickey Henderson with one of their first 4 picks in the 1976 draft maybe we could be feeling a whole lot different as sad-sack Phils fans. Perhaps we would be the envy of the 80's and 90's instead of the A's and Yankees. But no, we selected shortstop Jeff Kraus in the first round of the '76 draft. Doesn't that name ring a bell? Well, there's a good reason for that, the poor sock puppet never even played in the Majors. But a little musclebound speedster born on Christmas day did happen to play in the Majors from that same draft and he was chosen in the 4th round and went on to become the best leadoff hitter of all-time, stolen base king, and sure 1st ballot Hall-of-Famer.
Rickey Henderson was dubbed the Man of Steal because he used to knock over coner stores growing up in the hood of Chicago. Or maybe he got that nickname because he stole 1,406 bases in his career with an 81% success rate. To put that in perspective that's about 1,400 more bases than the current Phillies' burner Pat Burrell has stolen in his career...c'mon Pat! Rickey once stole 130 bases in a season ('82), that's more hits than Burrell had last season...dammit Burrell! Stealing bases wasn't all Rickey could do, as he finished his career up with 2,295 runs, 3,055 hits, 297 homeruns, 1,115 rbi, and 2,190 walks, plus a lifetime .401 on base %. Now that's a leadoff man!
So, back to how all this relates to the Phillies. Other than the early 80's and 1993, the Phillies had been a joke. If Rickey Henderson would have been on those squads we might be looking at the not so distant history in a different light. Instead of the Yankees and A's dominating most of the postseasons, it could have been our beloved Phillies instead. Maybe the Phils would be the toast of the town, and the marquee baseball team of popularity around America and the world instead of the f'n Yanks. Maybe we'd have a few more name placards on the World Series Trophy instead of 1 in our 123 years of existence. Maybe we wouldn't be such a fricken laughing stock! If only...
*This post is dedicated to Corey, as Rickey was his favorite player growing up. I remember he had posters of him on his wall even up through high school...good stuff. Happy birthday bro!