Does Charlie Manuel Get a Pass?
Hate double standards?! Loathe hypocrisy?!
Well so do we at 973ESPN.com (which I’m contractually obligated to note does not necessarily share the views and opinions expressed by any knuckleheaded web columnists), where we’re struggling to get our arms around this latest Andy Reid dust up.
If Reid’s got to go - some fans’ ideal scenario that, after Jeffrey Lurie’s Tuesday press conference, is at best a pipe dream for another year – why doesn’t your beloved Charlie Manuel?
Haven’t Manuel’s teams grossly underachieved for the past three seasons (the same span many Philly fans note as the lowlight of the Reid regime) successively sliding out of the postseason earlier by the year (a charge the same crowd would call grounds for giving Reid the axe)?
Hasn’t Manuel himself exhibited the same stubbornness – cue: his career-long reluctance to tinker with a sputtering Phillie lineup, most recently and costly in that hairball of a 2011 NLDS loss to the Cardinals – with regard to player management that’s barbequed Reid?
How, exactly, does Manuel get carte blanche in this town, while Reid gets the fan base’s fangs?
The Phillies haven’t been to the World Series since 2008, from which they’ve had a stepwise descent toward mediocrity DESPITE all-world talent additions like Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cliff Lee (again) and Hunter Pence, and a top three payroll every year over the span.
Applying the same logic as the fans clamoring for Reid’s ouster this year, given all the toys sprinkled along his depth chart, you’d think Philadelphians would’ve flooded Manuel’s mailbox with personal requests to help pack his luggage.
Manuel even sidestepped a scalding this past season, without a doubt the most hyped Phillies team (if not Philadelphia team, if not professional sports team) in recent memory.
Feels like I’m the only one who remembers the cover of Sports Illustrated’s 2011 season preview, pretty much the same buzz as the first-ever ESPN: The Mag dedicated to a single player, Michael Vick, who just so happened to quarterback the soon-to-be-dubbed “Dream Team.”
Some point to the franchise-record 102 wins his team managed during the regular season as exoneration. I’d counter:
Doesn’t that just make a first-round out that much more disappointing?
Especially when you consider that Manuel’s lineup (1. Rollins, 2. Utley, 3. Pence, 4. Howard, 5. Victorino, 6. Ibanez, 7. Polanco, 8. Ruiz) stayed mostly invariable throughout the series? I mean, would a little shakeup – say, Hunter Pence behind Howard in the No. 5 spot, where he and Ryan Howard proved lethal throughout the post-All-Star Break regular season – have killed anybody?
Especially for a lineup en route to a .225 average, and unforgivably gutless efforts from Ruiz (1-for-17), Howard and Polanco (2-for-19), and Pence (4-for-19) all of whom contributed toward a straight stupid 29 team strikeouts?
And ESPECIALLY against one of the most renowned thinkers in recent baseball memory (despite his now-famous aversion to Sandy Alderson’s zany little GM theories that may or may not have been the focus of a recent, Academy Award-nominated motion picture), whose every move (say, benching Jon Jay and sliding Skip Schumaker to center to make room for Nick Punto at second for a pivotal Game 5) was an unabated hit?
Keep in mind, the perpetual pass for Manuel isn’t limited to Philadelphia borders. That goes for the national media too, none of whom have even so much as whispered the possibility of a Phillie team led by anyone else, while Andy Reid’s safety scrolled across ESPN’s Bottom Line Tuesday, despite few (if any) previous reports that would have made his non-firing legitimate news.
For record: Both men recently signed extensions with their respective clubs, moves that likely factor into ownership’s decision-making.
Reid has two more years left on his contract, and, per the Lurie presser, a full vote of confidence heading into 2012. After that, though, not so much. Manuel, meanwhile, inked a contract extension last March that keeps him in Philadelphia through the 2013 season also.
I’m not calling for anybody’s firing (never do; it’s a moral high ground thing). But save for appearances – Reid must’ve dozed off during diplomacy class at BYU, while Manuel’s been nothing if not a lovable local hero – there’s a ginormous disparity between Manuel’s on-field production and public reception compared to Reid.