The Phillies need to hire a pitching coach. They need to decide if they can bring back J.T. Realmuto. They have a bullpen that needs to be rebuilt, and a starting rotation that needs to be completed. Oh, and they could be in the market for a new general manager.

It’s been more than five years since the Phillies began a rebuilding project. Yet, we’re in another October when the focus is not on the field. The 2021 postseason is nearly 11 months away. And the Phillies have a lot of work to do to get there.

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— Matt Breen (extrainnings@inquirer.com)

Mike Schmidt (top) and other exultant members of the Phillies celebrated their 1980 World Series triumph.
CHUCK ISAACS / File Photograph
Mike Schmidt (top) and other exultant members of the Phillies celebrated their 1980 World Series triumph.

The 1980 title made up for years of Phillies heartbreak

The parade route started on Market Street, traveled east to Broad Street and then went straight to South Philadelphia. Finally, 40 years ago today, the Phillies had a world championship to celebrate.

But they weren’t just celebrating a series win over Kansas City that afternoon. Instead, the 500,000 fans who covered the parade route and the players in the trucks that drove by on Oct. 22, 1980, were making up for the near misses — the collapse of 1964, Black Friday in 1977, the heartbreak in 1978 — that seemed to define the franchise until Tug McGraw blew a fastball past Willie Wilson.

“We were kind of like that guy who can’t win a major in golf,” Mike Schmidt said. “Everybody is talking about you and thinking about you. You’re playing under pressure and all that stuff that professional athletes want to be known for. None of us were up until that point. 1980 erased all that sense of an inability to play under pressure. What a big anchor around our necks to be removed. It completed my career up to that point. We all just took a deep breath.”

Schmidt dealt with that pressure for nine seasons before he was the MVP of the 1980 Series. Before he won the MVP, he had to move on from his struggles in the NLCS. Schmidt had just one extra-base hit and one RBI in the five-game series against Houston.

“I kind of took that NLCS off and let the other guys do it,” Schmidt said.

The playoffs, Schmidt said, are about the team. And the only thing that mattered was that his team found a way to win two straight games in the Astrodome to clinch the pennant. The World Series started two days after the NLCS finished, so there was little time to reset. But Schmidt found a way.

He went 8-for-21 in the World Series, homered twice, drove in seven runs, and followed up his MVP regular season by carrying his team to a world title.

“Nobody can be hot all the time,” Schmidt said. “And when you’re not, another guy gets hot. That’s the kind of team that we were. The team that wouldn’t die. The team that refused to lose.”

Schmidt had even less time to get ready for the parade. The trucks paraded through Center City the morning after the World Series clincher. They reached JFK Stadium, and Schmidt told the crowd that he had “never seen so many sincere faces.” Finally, the pain of past seasons was a bit less stinging.

“Take this world championship and savor it,” Schmidt told the crowd. “Because you all deserve it."

The rundown

Zack Wheeler is expected to be ready for spring training after having surgery to repair the fingernail he ripped last month while stepping into a pair of jeans.

Watching the World Series? Well, the Phillies are a great distance away from the Rays and Dodgers, Bob Brookover writes.

Chester County’s Joey Wendle had a big hit Wednesday night in Game 2 of the World Series and also helped power the Rays to the American League title. He was a 5-foot-7 high school player at Avon Grove, played Division II baseball at West Chester, and spent six seasons in the minors. The underdog is now on baseball’s biggest stage.

Important dates

Friday: Game 3 of the World Series, 8:08 p.m.

Saturday: Game 4 of the World Series, 8:08 p.m.

Sunday: Game 5 of the World Series, 8:08 p.m.

Tuesday: Game 6 of the World Series, if necessary, 8:08 p.m.

Wednesday: Game 7 of the World Series, if necessary, 8:08 p.m.

Phillies legend Steve Carlton threw the ceremonial first pitch before Game 3 of the World Series at Citizens Bank Park on Oct. 25, 2008.
David Maialetti / Staff Photographer
Phillies legend Steve Carlton threw the ceremonial first pitch before Game 3 of the World Series at Citizens Bank Park on Oct. 25, 2008.

Stat of the day

Mike Schmidt was the MVP of the 1980 World Series, but Steve Carlton was pretty good, too. The left-hander made two starts against the Royals, winning both Game 2 and the clincher in Game 6. He allowed four earned runs in 15 innings and struck out 17.

In Game 2, Carlton threw 159 pitches in eight innings to give the Phillies a 2-0 series lead. His 159 pitches are the most in a postseason game that has an official pitch count, according to Baseball Reference. The last pitcher to throw that many pitches in a game is knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, who threw 169 for the Red Sox in 1997 against Milwaukee.

From the mailbag

Send questions by email or on Twitter @matt_breen.

Question: What’s the latest with J.T.? Will they bring him back? — Steve N. via email

Answer: Thanks, Steve. Realmuto will become a free agent five days after the World Series finishes, which means he’ll be able to test the market by early November at the latest. The Phillies are expected to offer him a qualifying offer, a one-year deal worth $18.9 million. If they do, they would receive draft-pick compensation if Realmuto turns down the qualifying offer to sign elsewhere.

My gut still says that the Phillies re-sign Realmuto. There’s going to be some competition, but the Phillies almost have to make it happen after they gave up such an important prospect (Sixto Sanchez) to get him. We’ll have a better idea once his free agency begins.