Behind Bonds's booming bat, the Giants led the National League West defending-champion Atlanta Braves by a wide margin deep into the summer. Meanwhile, the three-time National League East champion Pirates, missing Bonds's long-ball artillery, also lagged far off the pace. The Bucs' thunder was usurped by the Phillies, yet another team to surge to the fore in the 1990s after finishing last the previous year.
In the season's final week the Phils clinched their first division crown since 1983, managing to hold off a furious charge by the Montreal Expos, but the situation in the National League West was still unresolved. After leading the Braves all summer, the Giants were passed in early September.
But then the Giants surged again. On the last Friday morning of the season the two foes were deadlocked at 101-58. But while the Braves played a three-game set at home that weekend against the expansion Colorado Rockies, the Giants' schedule called for a finish in Los Angeles.
The Braves routinely won their first two contests against the hapless Rockies, and the Giants unexpectedly kept pace. If both were victorious again on the last Sunday of the season, the Giants had a huge advantage, having won the right to host the division playoff game, if necessary.
But San Francisco's Cinderella story ended unhappily. The Braves decked the Rockies in their finale, 5-3, to set a new franchise record with 104 wins. Giants players, hearing the final score even before their game started in Dodger Stadium, could not rise to the must-win situation. San Francisco's starter, 21-year-old rookie Salomon Torres, got into deep water early, and Baker's bullpen, exhausted by overuse in the stretch, had no one to bail out Torres. Buoyed by Mike Piazza's two home runs, the Dodgers blasted the Giants' dream, 12-1.
In the American League, Toronto and Chicago had both clinched their respective divisions long before the final Sunday. Chicago whipped home eight games ahead of the Texas Rangers, and Toronto presented Cito Gaston with his third division crown by a seven-game margin over the New York Yankees.
Toronto and Atlanta were prohibitive favorites to meet for the second straight time in the 1993 World Series. The Blue Jays did their part, winning the ALCS in six rounds, but the Braves found the road to a return engagement barricaded. After taking a 2-1 lead in games, Atlanta skipper Bobby Cox helplessly watched his vaunted offense spin its wheels against the Phils. Spearheaded by center fielder Lenny Dykstra and pitcher Curt Schilling, the Phils put the Braves away in six games.
The Blue Jays needed just six games to grab their second consecutive World Series. Joe Carter's three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth in game six lifted the Jays to a come-from-behind 8-6 win over Phils closer Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams. Williams also dropped game four, a 15-14 donnybrook that broke the 20th century mark for the most runs in a postseason game.
Paul Molitor, the American League hit leader in 1993, was named the 1993 World Series MVP, but Dykstra could easily have won the award in a losing cause. Dykstra's dazzling fall showing culminated a brilliant season. His 143 runs in 1993 were the most by any National League player since another Phils outfielder, Chuck Klein, crossed the plate 152 times in 1932.
The next page provides headlines and summaries for some of the top stories of the 1993 baseball season.
To learn more about baseball, see: