He then homered on the first pitch he saw in the World Series.
5. Joel Embiid’s (shoulda been) MVP season
The Process got robbed by one-dimensional center Nicola Jokic in the MVP race for the second straight year by a swarm of analytics worshippers who wouldn’t know a complete basketball player if one campaigned for the award ceaselessly for two straight years, succeeded in spite of injuries to himself and to teammates, and persevered through adversity that only the worst-run franchise in the past decade could manufacture.
6. Dave Dombrowski, architect
The Phillies hired Dombrowski as their president 23 months ago, and he promptly set about to Dombrowski the Phillies. He jettisoned prospects, spent gobs of money, and went for broke. It worked; the Phillies emerged on top from a stacked National League, and have the ammunition to do it again.
So why isn’t he ranked higher here? Because he inherited a lot of his better players: Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Rhys Hoskins, Jean Segura, Seranthony Domínguez. Also, he made big, obvious mistakes: Corey Knebel, Jeurys Familia, and Odúbel Herrera, twice. Nick Castellanos, the $100 million luxury-tax luxury, might turn out to be Dombrowski’s biggest blunder.
But he understood clubhouse chemistry, so he signed Kyle Schwarber and fired Girardi.
Think about it. Philly’s year was so good that the guy who put together the NL pennant winner ranks sixth.
7. Not firing Jonathan Gannon ... but stay tuned
In a town that endured Simmons, Sixers coach Doc Rivers, and Girardi, among others, Gannon — the Eagles’ defensive coordinator, and therefore an assistant coach — was as polarizing, if not more so, than any of them. “Polarizing” might be the wrong word, since polarization implies conflicting views, and most everybody wanted Gannon gone.