Here’s what Philly Daily News columnist Bill Conlin had to say about the Phillies’ decision to sign Charlie Manuel to a two-year extension:
Had Charlie still been quacking in the background if George Steinbrenner decided to spring the trapdoor on the most successful Yankees manager since Casey Stengel, there would have been a tidal wave of insistence that the Phillies’ shakers and movers at least pick up the phone and see what Joe has to say. After all, we’re talking – and mind you, we’re just talking some ball business – Joe Flippin’ Torre here. We’re not talking Joe Girardi or Jim Leyland or any of the fortysomethings who are about to replace the pastime’s old guard. This is a guy whose team averaged 96.7 wins in the 11 full seasons he managed (Joe’s battle with prostate cancer cost him 35 games in 1999), not to mention four World Series rings, six pennants and 12 postseason appearances in 12 years. Joe has always liked the Phillies and the city. But, what’s done is done. The players’ benevolent security blanket will be shambling to the mound for two more seasons, stubborn as a Missouri mule and unshakable in his belief that “I know everything about baseball.”
That was Conlin’s defense of the Phils’ decision to re-sign Manuel, from his column titled, “Phils wisely act swiftly on skipper.” Talk about a backhanded compliment. If I didn’t know better, I’d think Conlin would actually prefer to see Joe Torre managing in Philly in 2008.
And I’ll tell you what, I don’t think Conlin is the only one. The Philly media (I’m looking at you Howard Eskin, you little dweeb) rode Manuel’s back all season long. They called him incompetent. They called him dumb. They wanted him gone.
But then a crazy thing happened. The Phils made the playoffs. And sure, it had just as much to do with the Mets’ historic collapse as with the Phils’ solid play, but whatever. Philly fans said all along that all they ever wanted was to make the playoffs. And Manuel got the team to the playoffs. So how do you fire the guy?
You can’t. You don’t.
So the Phillies signed him for two more years. Really, they didn’t have a choice.
But that doesn’t mean that Manuel will get a free pass from the Philly media in 2008. We live in a “what have you done for me lately” world, and philly is the ultimate “what have you done for me lately” town. As soon as the Phils struggle, the radio talk show hosts will jump all over Manuel.
This season (and last), they said, “we could have had Leyland.”
Next season, they’ll say, “We could have had Torre.”
It’s gonna be a long two years, Charlie. Glad they’re paying you well.