Philadelphia a Fortunate Stop on Pat Gillick's Career Path

Philadelphia a Fortunate Stop on Pat Gillick's Career Path

I didn't know the greatness of the Phillies team that won the franchise's first-ever World Series the week of my first birthday. Before 2008, the closest I saw the Fightins come to being the best in the bigs was in 1993, and that success left the team about as soon as Joe Carter's home run left the park.

That 1993 Blue Jays team was put together by Pat Gillick, and as painful as it can still be for those of us who witnessed it, the antidote is a few lines further down on his resume. By this I course mean Gillick was also the man perhaps most responsible for the greatest ride of our baseball lives, the 2008 Phillies Championship season.

Gillick wasn't the only one who got the Phillies on the winning track they've yet to veer from, but to me, he'll always be the mile marker at which the Phillies turned from punchline to powerhouse. He brilliantly combined gentlemanly savvy with a softness that endeared him to his players and peers. I'll never forget the tears in his eyes as he handed championship rings to his players. A brilliant heart and mind for the game and the flesh and blood that comprise it.

Tomorrow, Gillick will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. While Bill Conlin's induction will draw praise from his fans and derision from his detractors—true to the spirit of his columns, I doubt there will be any dissenting voices when Gillick's plaque is raised.

Cheers on a great career, Mr. Gillick, and thanks for 2005 'til question marks.

John Finger is in Cooperstown this weekend, sure to send home some prose befitting Gillick's induction. As a preview, I recommend this piece from yesterday.

Photo: Howard Smith-US Presswire

Today's Lineup: Cesar Hernandez (groin) returns

Today's Lineup: Cesar Hernandez (groin) returns

Cesar Hernandez returns to the Phillies' punchless lineup on Saturday afternoon against the Reds (4 p.m./TCN).

Hernandez, who missed Friday night's 5-2 loss with a groin injury, is back at second base and leading off. Hernandez has led off in all 44 games he's started this season. The fifth-year pro has struggled after getting off to a torrid start. He's hitting just .185 (10 for 54) over his last 14 games.

After bouncing around the lineup, centerfielder Odubel Herrera returns to his customary spot in the two-hole. Herrera's season is a microcosm of the Phils' woeful offense. An All-Star in 2016, Herrera is hitting just .227 this season. Manager Pete Mackanin hopes the Venezuelan will hit his way out of it soon (see story).

Here is the rest of today's lineup:
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Aaron Altherr, LF
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Michael Saunders, RF
6. Maikel Franco, 3B
7. Cameron Rupp, C
8. Freddy Galvis, SS
9. Jerad Eickhoff, P

Top NHL draft prospects Nolan Patrick, Nico Hischier get CHL awards

Top NHL draft prospects Nolan Patrick, Nico Hischier get CHL awards

Brandon center Nolan Patrick and Halifax center Nico Hischier, the projected top two picks in the 2017 NHL draft, on Saturday afternoon added some CHL hardware to their trophy case.

Patrick won the Sherwin-Williams Top Prospect Award, beating out Hischier and Windsor's Gabriel Vilardi, while Hischier edged Swift Current's Aleksi Heponiemi and Guelph's Ryan Merkley for the CCM Rookie of the Year Award.

Injuries forced Patrick to play just 33 games this season, but he still produced at a point-per-game pace for Brandon. He finished with 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists).

Hischier scored 38 goals and 86 points in 57 games with the Mooseheads, his first season in the QMJHL after coming over from Switzerland.

The Flyers have the No. 2 overall pick. If the draft goes as projected, the Flyers will come away with either Patrick or Hischier, whoever the New Jersey Devils do not pick.

The 2017 NHL draft is June 23-24 in Chicago.

Missing history
Flyers prospect Carter Hart had a chance to become the first goalie in CHL history to win the Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Year Award twice, but this year's award went elsewhere.

Owen Sound goalie Michael McNiven on Saturday afternoon took home the 2016-17 CHL Goaltender of the Year Award. McNiven was 41-9-4 for the Attack this season. He posted a 2.30 goals-against average and .915 save percentage with six shutouts.

McNiven led the Ontario Hockey League in save percentage, and his six shutouts were tied with Windsor's Michael DiPietro for the league lead. His 41 wins were tops in the OHL.

Hart, 18, posted a 32-11-6 record in 54 games with the Everett Silvertips in 2016-17. His 1.99 goals-against average, .927 save percentage and nine shutouts were all ranked No. 1 in the WHL.

Despite missing out on the CHL Goaltender of the Year Award this year, Hart previously did win the Del Wilson Memorial Trophy as the WHL's Goaltender of the Year for the second straight season. He was twice named the Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week and had a shutout streak of 193 minutes and 48 seconds during the regular season.

Hart was one of three second-round picks by the Flyers in the 2016 NHL draft.