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July 21, 2017

John Kruk: Social media would've ruined '93 Phillies – with three possible exemptions

John Kruk never won a World Series with the Phillies. Yet, like so many of his Phillies teammates from the early 1990s, the three-time All-Star remains one of the most popular former athletes in the city. And, after spending several years working for ESPN, Kruk is now back in Philly, working as a broadcaster for the Phillies.

He's that rare combination of brutal honesty and honest levity so few possess, so perfectly suited for the post-baseball career in which he's currently thriving.

Unfortunately, the team he's stuck watching night in and night out isn't the most exciting in the world; the Phillies currently have the worst record in baseball at 32-61. 

In a recent interview with Dan Levy of Billy Penn, Kruk spoke openly about a wide variety of topics, from what it's like covering a last-place team – "I mean I’ve got to watch them, right?" – to the Giancarlo Stanton trade rumors – "you need more than one player" – to recent call-ups like Nick Williams – "a couple more guys and you never know what can happen."

Oh, he also talked about his cheesesteak spot in Florida and the time he helped write a country song about WNBA star Elena Della Donne. (Yes, that actually happened.)

Head over to Billy Penn to check out the full interview, but here are a few great answers from the former first baseman and current Phillies broadcaster:

•  On if the '93 were really as nuts as we all remember – and how things would be different if social media existed back then:

Yeah…we were all nuts. We had a good relationship with the beat writers who covered our team. They’d see things, they’d turn their backs to it, turn a blind eye to it. But if there was social media, iPhones and stuff like now, oh my God… Jim Eisenreich, Kevin Stocker and probably Mickey Morandini would be the only three guys playing.  []

•  On if he and his teammates knew the adoration for the '93 Phillies, a team up there with the 2001 Sixers and 2004-05 Eagles as the most-beloved Philly teams that didn't actually win the title, would be so great – and if he had any idea it would remain nearly 25 years later: 

We didn’t realize it at the time. I just knew in spring training we thought we had a really good team. We had a much better team than all those so-called experts thought we did. Most of them had us finishing last again.

We played hard. We, you know — so much different than what we see now — but we fought a lot. We got into brawls with the Braves, the Cardinals, the Mets, of course. It was funny because after I retired, in talking to players who retired from those teams, a lot of them admitted they were afraid of us because at the drop of a hat we would fight ‘em.

And I think we became beloved in Philadelphia because of that. And now you throw in a team that went wire-to-wire to win the NL East. It just started snowballing. We thought we had something special, but as the season progressed you realized, the fans related to us. They knew after games they’d see us out in a bar somewhere. It was so much different than it is now, we were out and about. The people saw us as everyday, blue collar guys who just happened to be pretty good at baseball.  []

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