August 16, 2013 will go down as a sad day for Phillies fans all over the world. That day will always be remembered as the day Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. pulled the rug out from under the greatest, most beloved manager in Philadelphia Phillies history Charlie Manuel after 8.5 seasons on the job. As I write this entry I find myself full of emotion because Charlie Manuel has a special place in my heart and always will for as long as I’m alive. As most of you know championships are very rare in the city of brotherly love. So far in my lifetime I’ve had the opportunity to witness 1 championship and that championship team was managed by a man that was unfairly let go.
Sure the Phillies have been on the decline since their 102 win season in 2011 but I’m sorry when you win a championship you should be given a little more respect than what Charlie Manuel received. Manuel is without a doubt the greatest manager in Phillies history. He finished with 780 wins most in Phillies history. He’s totaled 1000 career wins, 59th all time in the majors. He won at least 85 games in his first 7 seasons as Phillies manager. He led the Phillies to 5 straight NL East titles from 2007-2011 and was the first manager to lead the Phillies to back to back World Series appearances. On top of all of these stellar statistics Manuel led the team to the 2008 World Series Championship and helped end a 25 year championship drought in the city of Philadelphia.
Sure the Phillies are clearly not going to the playoffs this season and Charlie most likely wouldn’t have returned after the 2013 season. His contract was set to expire at the end of the season and at 70 years of age it was time for the Phillies to move on and for Charlie to move on. But the bottom line is when you’ve done so much for a franchise and led a team to a Championship you should be awarded the respect to go out on your own terms or at least finish the season you started. Charlie is beloved in this town and unfortunately the Phillies front office took away an opportunity for fans around the Delaware Valley to send Charlie off with some recognition and give their thanks. They could have announced tthat Charlie would not be returning at the end of the season thus allowing fans 40 games to say their good-byes to the greatest manager in team history. Instead they chose to throw him out on the street immediately and without warning.
I always like to look at any situation from all angles and I do understand that the Phillies front office wanted to take a look at interim head coach Ryan Sandberg to see if he has what it takes to be the manager going into 2014 but let’s face it, Sandberg is inheriting a team that’s already packed it in and has no reason to compete the rest of the season so what kind of assessment will this really be. I’ll be shocked if this team makes any type of turn around the rest of the season and then basically you’re back right where you are now wondering if Sandberg can lead this team back to glory. The least they could have done is make an announcement Charlie wouldn’t return in 2014 and give the fans and Charlie the opportunity to embrace and say good bye.
Charlie was a player’s coach and the irony of this whole situation is that it was those very same players that helped him capture glory that ultimately led him to the exit. Charlie showed nothing but love and respect to each and every player over the years but they clearly mailed it in from day 1 this season. This team played with no heart and just went through the motions every game instead of putting in any effort. When players start going through the motions it means they’re taking their manager for granted. They knew they could get away with such a lousy performance because Charlie wasn’t the type of coach that would throw them under the bus and that’s flat out wrong for them to have taken advantage of Charlie.
Bottom line Charlie Manuel is the greatest coach in Phillies history. I’ll never forget that night when the Phillies won the World Series in 2008 and Charlie got on the mic and said those famous words “Listen, this is for Philadelphia, this is for the fans, when I look around here, who’s the world champions”. To this day that line still brings tears to my eyes because it was the first time I’ve ever heard those words uttered by a Philadelphia coach. A few days after that line was recited by Charlie I had the opportunity to attend the championship parade with my father. Charlie was dressed to impress in his suit and tie ready to celebrate with the fans. It all seems like a distant memory at this point as the Phillies have a long rebuilding process ahead. As a fan though, when you look back on it you have to be thankful for having the opportunity to witness the golden age of Phillies baseball and the greatest manager in Phillies history.
Although Charlie will no longer be with us the memories of this era of Phillies baseball will live with me and many others forever. One day as an old papou I’ll most likely be telling stories of the days of the Charlie Manuel led Phillies with pride and excitement. I guess winning a championship doesn’t allow you to step down when you want and the word “fired” will still be placed next to your legacy. Maybe if Ruben Amaro didn’t get rid of guys like Jayson Werth, Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence, and others Charlie would still be around. Maybe Charlie wouldn’t have had an awful roster in 2012-2013 that led him to this moment today. But the front office has to place the blame somewhere, and I guess pulling the rug out from under your fans and the greatest manager in Phillies history was Ruben Amaro’s way of saying apologies, I screwed up. With that said, Long Live Charlie Manuel, the greatest coach in Phillies history, thank you for all you’ve done.