Thursday, August 8, 2013

1993 TOPPS FINEST: #49 MITCH WILLIAMS


SWITCHED TO No. 99 IN '93. HOW APPROPRIATE.




''WILD THING ... YOU WALK EVERYTHING!''


DEFINING THE PLAYER

  • It's been said southpaw Mitch Williams pitched like his hair was on fire and that he tried to do everything, including throwing a ball, at 99 mph. Fitting observations of a closer with one of the game's most violent deliveries. He had plenty of highs and a historic low during an 11-year career, saving 192 games for six teams. Watching his daily ups and downs on WGN with the Cubs during their NL East title run in 1989 was supremely entertaining.

DEFINING MOMENT

  • Can't be any other than on Oct. 23, 1993, when Wild Thing came on in Game 6 of the World Series to protect a 6-5 Phillies' lead in the bottom of the ninth. Williams didn't have his best stuff. He walked #86 Rickey Henderson on four straight, got Devon White on a deep fly to left-center before #70 Paul Molitor singled sharply to center. Up stepped #94 Joe Carter, who took a down-and-in 2-2 pitch and drove it into the left-field seats for the game-winner that gave the World Series to the Blue Jays. Give credit to Williams for answering all the questions afterward and never ducking responsibility. Big man stuff.

DEFINING SEASON

  • Despite its ending, the '93 season was Williams' zenith as a closer. He saved 43 games in the regular season, blowing only six, to anchor the back end of the Phillies' pen.

FIVE FINAL FACTS

  1. Williams was always walking a tightrope as closer because of his inability to consistently throw strikes. For his career, he struck out 8.6 per nine innings but walked 7.1.
  2. After saving 32 games in his first three years with the Rangers, Williams was traded to the Cubs in December '88 as part of a nine-player trade that sent #52 Rafael Palmeiro to the Rangers.
  3. Lost amid his implosion in Game 6 was Williams' performance in the '93 National League Championship Series against the Braves. He saved two games and got the win in two others. 
  4. When Williams pitched in the World Series, #10 Curt Schilling was often shown on TV with a towel draped over his head. Williams was not amused, but Phillie fans at Veterans Stadium started doing the same.
  5. Since '09, he's been a studio analyst for MLB Network, and while he draws ridiculous conclusions sometimes, his candor is refreshing.

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