Over the next few weeks at The700Level, we'll be posting poll matchups as part of our Philly March Madness competition. Examine the cases of the two fine Philadelphia athletes below, and cast your vote at the bottom as to which you think should advance to the next round. And as always, feel free to explain your selection and/or debate the choices in the comments section.
548. That's a number that just about any Philly sports fan should instantly recognize, as the number of round-trippers that Michael Jack Schmidt hit for the Philadelphia Phillies, by a considerable distance the most in team history. But Schmidt has a whole host of impressive numbers to boast of over his career, including 12 (All-Star selections), 10 (Gold Golves), 4 (homers hit in a single game in 1976), 3 (NL MVPs) and 1 (World Championships and World Series MVPs). Debuting at third base for the Phillies in '72, by '74 he was leading the NL in homers, a stat title he'd win in a staggering half of his 16 professional seasons. Possibly the best hitter in the majors in the late 70s and early 80s, he helped lead the Phillies to the post-season six times, including two World Series appearances, and of course, the franchise's first World Series championship in 1980, where he hit .381 with two homers and seven RBIs. By the time he eventually retired in 1989, Schmidt would hold the franchise record not only for homers but for hits, RBIs, walks, games, runs, and just about every other major statistical category. Though Schmidt's relationship with the City of Brotherly Love was often rocky during his Philly tenure, and he was often booed for his poor attitude with fans and emotionless demeanor (which would memorably break down during his tearful retirement speech), it's easy in retrospect to see Schmidt now for what he is--the best position player in Phillies history, and possibly the best third baseman of all-time.
After an illustrious college career playing at Ohio State, Keith Byars was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles with the 10th pick in the 1986 draft. For the Eagles, he would do absolutely everything on office--spending most of his time at tailback, but also filling in at fullback, tight end, and even QB on occasion. He rushes for 2672 yards and 23 TDs during his seven years as an Eagle, but proved an even more potent weapon in the team's passing attack, amassing 3532 yards and 13 scores through the air as well. Perhaps due to his supreme positional fluidity, Byars never made a Pro Bowl for the Birds, but he would put up single-season stat lines unlike anyone else in the league, including his 1990 season, where he rushed for 141 yards, gained 819 receiving yards, and threw four passes--all completions for touchdowns (!!) Byars will also be forever remembered by fans for the devastating hit he put on Giants linebacker Pepper Johnson during a Birds/G-Men game in the early 90s, one of the great blocks in modern Eagles history.
Results So Far:
(1) Julius Erving (91.8%) over (16) Von Hayes (8.2%)
(8) Simon Gagne (77.9%) over (9) Seth Joyner (22.1%)
(5) Eric Lindros (70.3%) over (12) Eric Allen (29.7%)
(4) Randall Cunningham (77.6%) over (13) Shane Victorino (23.4%)
(11) Cole Hamels (82.1%) over (6) Mark Recchi (17.9%)
(14) Tug McGraw (51.1%) over (3) Moses Malone (48.9%)
(7) Darren Daulton (74.0%) over (10) Andrew Toney (26.0%)
(2) Chase Utley (93.5%) over (15) Andre Waters (6.5%)
(1) Mark Howe (60.2%) over (16) David Akers (39.8%)
(9) Rod Brind'Amour (73.6%) over (8) Rick Tocchet (26.4%)
(5) Brian Westbrook (93.3%) over (12) Jayson Werth (6.7%)
(4) Mike Richards (85.1%) over (13) Trent Cole (14.9%)
(6) John LeClair (89.2%) over (11) Clyde Simmons (10.8%)
(3) Jimmy Rollins (75.8%) over (14) John Kruk (24.2%)