Sunday, August 18, 2013

PHILLIES: The Charlie Manuel era is over, but it still hasn't sunk in

August 17, 2013

By Nick Tricome

It's a day after the fact, but it still may not have fully sunk in yet.

Still, it is nonetheless true. Charlie Manuel is no longer the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies.

With the downward spiral this team has been on since coming back from the All-Star break, it wasn't hard to conclude that this was likely Manuel's last season in Philadelphia.

However, given all he has done for the franchise over the past nine years, it made sense to think that he would at least finish out the season with the team he led to five straight division pennants and a 2008 World Series title.

But that wasn't the case. 

The Phillies held a press conference on Friday afternoon to announce the managerial change with 42 games left in the season.

The Charlie Manuel era had come to its end, with the Ryne Sandberg officially taking over as an interim skipper just hours before the Phillies eventually got blanked by the Dodgers 3-0.

Manuel revealed at the press conference that he didn't make the decision, but he seemed to handle the situation with class.

"I never quit nothin' and I didn't resign," Manuel said. "I will say this, the decision definitely came from the organization, but at the same time too, I definitely wanted to put my team and also the Philadelphia Phillies above myself, and I mean that."

"I cannot explain to you what the last nine years have meant to me," he said. "I've had some of the greatest times of my life, Philadelphia has been the highlight of my career."

"I love everything about the fans, I love the city," Manuel added. "I'm mad because they took the best seat in the house away from me. And I've been sitting there watching the games every day, watching the Phillies play, something that I love. I'll just leave it right there. That's how I feel about it. I enjoyed everything about it."

Manuel leaves as the manager with the most wins in Phillies history and the most decorated. 2012 was a down year however, as the Phillies missed the playoffs for the first time since 2006.

The Phillies infield core of Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins was noticeably getting older as they struggled with injuries, making it no secret to fans, media and likely the front office that the window of opportunity was closing.

Yet there was still hope that 2013, the last year on Manuel's contract, could be a season that saw the Phillies make one last playoff run.

It would be a good swan song for Manuel. Sadly, it didn't work out that way.

Playoff hopes lasted up until the All-Star break, when the Phillies wrapped up the first half of the season at the .500 mark. First place in the NL East was still a bit out of their reach, but it wasn't impossible for them to catch up.

Then, coming back from the break, the Phillies completely fell apart.

They lost 19 of their last 23 games before Friday night's 3-0 loss. When a team is doing that bad, tough decisions have to be made.

That was clear just from looking at general manger Ruben Amaro Jr., who choked up at one point during the press conference.

"I think Charlie understands the decision, and that fact that we were making a managerial change, that it was in the best interest of the future of the organization," Amaro said. "As we talked a little further, it became evident that the best course of action was to make this change immediately as we begin the transition by offering the position to Ryne Sandberg on an interim basis."

"Charlie understood this decision," Amaro added. "Making this change is not easy for me. Not easy for me, personally, and not easy for the organization. But it's a change I think the Phillies need to make as we look toward the future."

While this season is lost, it's really hard to blame Manuel for this disappointing team. He was the least of their problems, as injuries, inconsistent hitting and a struggling bullpen plagued the club all season.

“I’m as guilty as everybody else is,” Cole Hamels, who has been going through a rough year on the mound, said. “We have to focus a lot more in what we have to do out on the field because we have to do it the right way. 

"Charlie preached that, but we just weren’t doing it," Hamels said. "We’re as guilty as everybody. We have to be responsible for being out there and playing the game of baseball the Philly way and the way that we know how. We have to pull for each other to do so.”

Manuel was the only Major League manager Hamels has ever played for. Now, he and the rest of the team will follow the guidance of Sandberg, who was longed viewed as Manuel's heir apparent.

When Manuel was hired as the Phillies' manager for the 2005 season, it was hard for many fans to think he would last in Philadelphia as long as he did.

But here we are, nine years later, having experienced a championship parade, after a 25-year drought, and the most successful era in Phillies history.

Anyone who has ever spoke to Manuel will say the same two things; that he is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet and that he has a phenomenal baseball mind. And although he isn't the Phillies' manager anymore, some fans were lucky enough to find that out for themselves on Saturday at the Granite Run Mall.

Was it time for the Phillies to change managers? Yes. With Manuel at the end of his contract and with the way this team has been playing, it probably was time for a new voice in the clubhouse.

Did Manuel deserve to go out like this? No.

It's easy to argue that he is the best manager in franchise history and after doing so much for the organization, he should have been able to leave on better terms. His team should have played better for him and he shouldn't have been fired just days after earning his 1000th win as a manager.

But it's all done and over with now, so we as fans have nothing left to do but to thank him for all the success he brought to the Phillies during his time in Philadelphia.

So thank you, Charlie!

Best of luck to whatever it is that you do next.

(Quotes from stories By Jim Salisbury and Tim Riday of and Todd Zolecki of
(Image from The 700 Level and Chris Szagola of the Associated Press. By the way, kudos to Szagola on this photo. It makes me sad, but it is an awesome picture.)
(Ending Image from

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