SportsProf

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Monday, February 20, 2006

From Macho Row To Mystic Row

I confess I don't know enough about physics, metaphysics or philosophy, so it may be that Darren Daulton is a genius, he's before his time, he's another Spinoza, but somehow if that were the case I think he's brilliance in the thought realm would have been discovered well before now. Thanks to Chris Lynch of "Large Regular" for pointing out Dutch's treats, and here's a link to Franz Lidz's article on SI.com about the one-time Phillies' catcher's flirtation with, well, I can't even figure out what noun to use to describe what Daulton's talking about.

It's not the occult. It's not Tom Cruise's brain. No, it's not voodoo or Kabbalah or anything that has been defined before. Call it Dutch's philosophy of life.

I recall years and years ago, at a time after his retirement, where Phillies' Hall-of-Fame pitcher Steve Carlton was interviewed and spoke about his philosophies and theories, which were somewhat out there. What totally disappointed Phillies' fans was that they thought Carlton, an artist on the mound, would have been much more eloquent given that during the bulk of his career in Philadelphia (from 1974 to the late 1980's) he didn't talk to the press. Carlton had one of the all-time brilliant seasons in 1972, winning the Cy Young Award for a plum-awful team, only to follow it with a twenty-loss season in 1973. The Philadelphia media wasn't particularly kind to him, so he stopped talking.

To them and to everyone else. Late in his career, when he wasn't as compelling a player, he granted an occasion interview to his one-time catcher, Tim McCarver, who then was at the beginning of his broadcasting career. Still, those interviews were few in number. The published interview (I believe it was in "Philadelphia Magazine") didn't reveal a funny guy or an introspective guy, but a guy who liked his solitude, sounded like a survivalist and might have had a conspiracy theory or two. The shame of it was that so many of us loved Carlton's work ethic on the mound, and his silence added an aura of mysticism to him that made him even more appealing. It took that unfortunate interview to cause many a fan to go "Eee-gads", swallow, remember how much of a joy he was to watch, but remind ourselves that even our sports mortals are flawed humans like the rest of us.

I recall Carlton fondly as a master craftsman who I enjoyed watching with my father. I recall Daulton as an overrated macho guy whose team caught lightning in a bottle during one magical year but otherwise didn't accomplish all that much. Phillies' fans probably don't remember that Carlton interview, and, if they do, they've forgotten it. Phillies fans will view this interview and take pity on their former cleanup hitter, whose life seems to have been chock full of post-snowstorm big-city potholes since he retired from baseball.

No, I don't think that there was lead in the Vet Stadium pipes that led into the Phillies' locker room. A friend of mine, a one-time sportswriter, advised me once that you don't want to meet your heroes because they'll never be able to live up to your hopes and dreams. Steve Carlton was a hero, I met him in an elevator a few times, he nodded hello and otherwise continued his Harpo Marx imitation, sans the hair and the horn. Dutch Daulton played hard on the field with bad knees, but he didn't come close to approaching baseball's Mount Olympus or even the Phillies'. That fact, in and of itself, makes his comments much less worth listening too, and all the more puzzling.

Especially since I thought that Lenny Dykstra was the philosopher-king of the 1993 Phillies.

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