Charlie Manuel is Second-Best

The Manager of the Year awards were handed out on Wednesday, and Charlie Manuel just missed out on his. Uncle Charlie finished a commendable second to Arizona manager, Bob Melvin who lead his team to 14-win improvement in 2008. Manuel certainly deserves a great deal of credit in leading the Phillies to the playoffs for the first time in 14 years. His clubs have consistently finished near the top of the division while amassing 88, 85, NL Manager of the Year Award Votingand 89 wins in seasons as a Phillies manager – something very few can claim. He has another two years to improve upon these numbers and further bolster his legacy in Philadelphia; but as we all know, the road to respectability was a long and arduous one.

Almost as certain as Opening Day comes in early Spring, the rumors of Charlie Manuel’s impending firing soon follow. The Phillies have had notoriously bad starts under Manuel’s reign and usually by the second week, fans are calling for his head. The specific reasons vary ranging from the way he fills out a lineup card to the mismanagement of double switches. Not to mention the fact that his slow West Virginia drawl doesn’t fit well with the city that demands proper English be spoken. There are a lot of shallow reasons to dislike Charlie Manuel, there is no denying that; however, when it counts (and that is in the standings) Manuel has performed as well as any manager in recent years.

This year’s team was wrought with injuries and plagued by inconsistent pitching, but Manuel managed through all that. His hands-off approach allowed the players the opportunity to overcome the injuries on their own. This approach worked. Speaking today, Manuel credited some of these guys by saying, “They’re the ones who made me look good. We came together a lot, with Kendrick, Romero and Dobbs helping. We never gave up.” (I’d probably also add Michael Bourn and Tad Iguchi to that list.) But it should be said that these players could have just as easily not fulfilled their roles and Manuel would have taken the heat.

So for all that has been said about Charlie Manuel, it appears his passive managerial style works for this team. Still, when push comes to shove, Uncle Charlie isn’t afraid to make his opinion known. Recall his mini-tirade back in 2005:

“I’m not here to hurt anybody’s feelings, but at the same time, we’re trying to get to the playoffs. I don’t worry about hurting people’s feelings. People call me ‘Uncle Charlie’ and ‘Good Time Charlie’ and ‘Happy-Go-Lucky Charlie’ and all that BS. You can take that to ram it up your [butt]. I’m here to win games.”

Classic. Just keep winning those games Mr. Manuel.

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