By FRANK WARD
Not giving the other team a chance is taboo. You can think it like everyone else, but to say it? Well, that might wake up the Baseball Gods.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was asked on Saturday if the Reds could come back in the series. His response: “It could happen. Sure, it could happen. It ain’t gonna happen.”
The last four words are the type of brutal honesty you rarely here. Uncle Chuckles likely meant it in a fun way. Some people will take it the wrong way to be sure. As a matter of fact, rumor has it that Orlando Cabrera is reaching for his crying towel right now.
Charlie is just confident in his guys and enjoying the moment as he should. He’s earned this.
Look, many people, myself included, thought this man was a bumbling southern hick due to his work at the mics after games. In this day and age of the soundbite, we perceived his lack of media training as a sign that he was baseball’s Rich Kotite.
All the guy has done is win four NL East titles, two NL pennants and led his team to the title of WFC. Oh, the negative people outside of Philly want to say he’s done that with the best Philly money can buy. He’s done it with an All-Star lineup?
Yes he has. And, that’s what gives him the authority to relish the next month and display his confidence without being perceived as cocky.
Managing 25 different personalities is bad enough — just ask any teacher. Trying to keep a lineup of all-stars happy, a rotation of three aces happy? Not that easy.
The Phillies are a Chooch All-Star game short of fielding a Yankees or Red Sox type of star-studded lineup. Few men can manage a team like that through the ups and downs of a 162-game regular season and have the type of annual playoff success that the Phils are having these days. Joe Torre was a master at it. Terry Francona is using his mulligan to show he has it.
And, Manuel is displaying that ability before our eyes. When he sat down in front of the media following Roy halladay’s masterpiece on Wednesday, Manuel jokingly quipped “great managing.”
Only, his joke was actually the truth.