Is This the End of the Charlie Manuel Era?

Posted: February 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

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Sports have a “what have you done for me lately” aspect to them that can tend to numb the senses against the magnitude of a certain player, or coach’s career. For Charlie Manuel, 2013 may be the end of a storied and triumphant career. Not because of anything he did wrong. But, rather, because we live in a day-and-age where instant coffee, instant food, and instant entertainment have corrupted society to believe that if success does not come quickly and easily, failure is imminent.

Managers used to be judged by the content of their character as much as their record. Today, one bad year can change an entire city’s view towards a sporting figure. A year ago today, Manuel was revered in this town as the savior of the Phillies’ franchise. Now, he is considered expendable, a bane on the success of the team instead of an integral piece.

After years of abject failure under Jim Fregosi, Terry Francona, and Larry Bowa, Manuel joined Philadelphia in 2005. Coming off back-to-back 86-76 seasons, the Phillies were seemingly not that far off. However, there was always one thing holding this franchise back. They lacked that winning attitude in the clubhouse. With Bowa, whom the players publicly admonished as too aggressive and detrimental to their cause, September became a black hole of disappointment and defeat. In 2001, the Phillies entered the season’s final month within striking distance of the Atlanta Braves. Their effort failed to achieve glory. In 2003 and 2004, the team was right in the race until the final weeks of the season, where poor leadership led to more dismay for the fan base.

In 2005, Manuel joined the franchise. His only other tour of duty was with Cleveland from 2000-2002, where he won 220 games and an AL Central division title. From the start, things were different under Charlie. Bowa was long a fan favorite. But, the players themselves despised him. For Manuel, the opposite was true. The fanbase has never warmed up to the southern drawled gentleman. Where the players view him as respectful and fatherlike, the fans construe as foolish and hillbilly’esque. With just one year remaining on his contract and Ryne Sandberg waiting in the wings (or up the third base line), the fans may finally be getting their wish.

Now, I am sure Sandberg will be a fine manager. The Hall-of-Famer did a fantastic job in his two seasons with Lehigh Valley. But, in the end, you win with great players, not with great managers. Charlie Manuel’s record speaks for itself in this town. Eight seasons, zero losing records, five division titles, two pennants, and a world championship. His record: 727-569 (.561), is among the greatest in Philadelphia sports history. Anyone who believes that another manager could have achieved more with last year’s squad is blinded by an irrational disposition fueled by ignorance. Ask any manager to go .500 without his #3 and #4 hitters for half the season, his ace for a third of the season, and the cast of Bad News Bears in the bullpen, and even Connie Mack himself would have failed.

Manuel’s contract expires after this season, and the general consensus appears to be that his tenure with the Phillies will expire as well. This morning, the petting zoo otherwise known as “Angelo Cataldi and the Morning Show” on 94.1 WIP attacked Manuel for his lack-of-willingness to discuss his contract situation. Cataldi even went as far as to grade Manuel’s era with Philadelphia a C. Now, no one has ever accused the radio host of having even the slightest knowledge of sports beyond the one in which he shoves his head up his ass every morning. But, this general ideal is not only possessed by nitwit hosts. It is a sentiment shared by many in the Philadelphia community. It is also one that is ignorant to the facts. Manuel is the greatest manager in Phillies history, and he should be treated like it in this, his swan song season.

Charlie Manuel will always have a home in Philadelphia for some of us.

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