Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – August 18, 2013

Photo: Phil Pilling - MLBGetty Images

Photo: Phil Pilling – MLBGetty Images

It is the Sunday Request on The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast!

Charlie Manuel is out. Ryne Sandberg is in. And the sports culture of Philadelphia has changed.

I wrote about this topic on the blog HERE.

Clayon Kershaw, Miguel Cabrera, Martin Prado and John Lackey all owned baseball on August 17, 2013.

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Who Owns Baseball?,” click HERE

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Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – August 18, 2013

Charlie Manuel and his Philadelphia legacy

Photo: Chris O'Meara - AP

Photo: Chris O’Meara – AP

As reported in the Associated Press (via Yahoo Sports) , Charlie Manuel was relieved of his duties as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies and replaced by coach (and Baseball Hall of Famer) Ryne Sandberg.

General Manager Ruben Amaro cried during the press conference, probably remembering that he signed Delmon Young in the off season and his farm system was bare. And Manuel made it clear to all that this was not HIS decision.  He said “I didn’t resign.”

He was canned.

The greatest manager, in terms of wins and losses, was dumped unceremoniously and clearly not on his terms. The team that has experienced a rash of injuries and fading veterans has fallen far behind the Division Leading Braves. And with Sandberg in place and the 69 year old Manuel no longer guiding the team to victory, perhaps the end was indeed near.

Manuel has survived kidney cancer and bypass surgery for his heart. But his managerial career could not survive the free fall that the Phillies have gone through since Ryan Howard collapsed in a heap at home plate with a torn tendon to end the 2011 Division Series against the Cardinals.

Make no mistake about it. Charlie Manuel’s tenure with the Phillies was a success. The city of Philadelphia had not crowned a champion since the 1983 76ers won the NBA Title when Manuel filled the vacant managerial position before the 2005 season.

Philadelphia sports stars such as Charles Barkley, Randal Cunningham, Eric Lindros, Curt Schilling, Allen Iverson and Donovan McNabb arrived in Philly and left, all without a title won.

The City of Brotherly Love had become the neurotic “Woe is me” northeastern sports market, especially after the Red Sox relieved Bostonians of their suffering (if not their insufferability.)

Screen Shot 2013-08-16 at 11.16.05 PM

More specifically with the Phillies, the team was one of the least successful franchises in baseball history. From the first World Series in 1903 through the 2004 season, the Phillies played in a total of nine postseasons. Only the 1915, 1950, 1980, 1983 and 1993 squads won pennants. The 1980 team was the lone champion, and that team was a Houston hit here or there away from losing the pennant.

Over 21 years, only the rough-around-the-edges 1993 team made the post season, and they are best remembered for walking off the field dejectedly after Joe Carter’s homer.

The Phillies were a franchise of failures. The epic collapse of 1964 and the playoff failures in the 1970’s and Mitch Williams seemed to define the team.

Then Charlie Manuel arrived.

The Phillies were stuck in that neutral zone of being good enough to have a winning season, but not good enough to pass the Braves, who seemed to have a stranglehold on the National League East.

When the Braves finally faded, it looked like the Mets were going to be the Division Champ for years to come. Then Manuel’s squad put a stake through the heart of Met fans and changed the image of the Phillies’ organization.

Down 7 games to the defending division champion Mets with 17 games left in the 2007 season, Manuel guided his team to a sweep of New York and finished the season 13-4, clinching on the final day of the season.

Screen Shot 2013-08-16 at 11.27.32 PMThe Phillies were not one hit wonders like their 1993 counterpart. For five straight seasons, 2007-2011, they won the Division each time. The franchise that had nine playoff berths total added five more with Manuel as manager.

In 2008, the Phillies doubled their World Championship total from one to two. In 2009, the team won back to back pennants for the first time in their history.

Philadelphia was no longer a city of losers. They had one of the marquee franchises in baseball. Stars wanted to come to Philadelphia. Cliff Lee even bypassed a richer contract with the Yankees to sign with the Phillies.

It was the greatest run the Phillies had ever experienced in their history. And it all happened under Charlie Manuel’s watch.

As great and as unexpected as the run was, there is an aura of slight disappointment as well.

The 2007 run for the Division, the 2008 title and the 2009 pennant raised the bar dramatically for expectations in Philadelphia. And with the addition of Roy Halladay in 2010 and his startling Division Series no-hitter to start the playoffs, the Phillies seemed poised to potentially reach a new height.

The could have achieved unquestionably the greatest run a Philadelphia pro sports team had ever had. With one more title, or at least another pennant, and this Phillies squad would have dwarfed any previous Phillies, 76ers, Eagles or Athletics team and even the Broad Street Bully Flyers.

They very well could still lay claim to that unofficial title, but an October let down here or there may have kept this squad from being considered as an all time great.

Perhaps the meltdown in Game 4 of the 2009 World Series and the image of Johnny Damon taking an uncovered third base in the 9th inning looms large in Phillies’ fans minds.

The image of Ryan Howard being called out on strikes to end the 2010 NLCS to a seemingly inferior Giants squad was memorable. The infamous “rally squirrel” in St. Louis and the symbolism of Ryan Howard collapsing to end the 2011 Division Series must haunt Phillies fans. So should the fact that the Phillies had a 4-0 second inning lead against the Cardinals in 2011’s Game 2 with Cliff Lee on the mound and could not hold the lead.

Reuters Photo: Steve Nesius

Reuters Photo: Steve Nesius

But the fact that those post season failures can be broken down shows what a dramatic change in Philadelphia sports culture occurred while Charlie Manuel managed the team. Before 2007, Phillies fans were hoping for a playoff berth that had been denied them all but one season since 1983 and not once since the 1994 strike.

As Manuel leaves, fans can lament that they could have won even more pennants and World Series titles.

Each team that eliminated the Charlie Manuel Phillies became the World Champion (the ’09 Yankees, ’10 Giants and ’11 Cardinals) with the exception being the ’07 Rockies who won the National League pennant.

At the very least, the pennant had to come through Philadelphia if not the World Series title.

Manuel’s successor Sandberg might have been a Hall of Famer on the field, but he has large shoes to fill as manager. Manuel did more than make an “also ran” into a winner. He changed the entire culture and expectations of a city that claims to have brotherly love but actually displayed cynicism for their many teams.

Philadelphia fans have experienced a recent championship. They should salute Charlie Manuel. He delivered more to Philadelphia baseball than any manager since Connie Mack.

He does not seem to want to walk away. Perhaps there is another city he can turn around somewhere.

10 Reasons why the Philadelphia Phillies winning the 2011 World Series would be good for baseball

The latest entry for the Why Each Team’s Potential World Championship Would Be Good For The Game series will be for the Philadelphia Phillies.

A lot of these entries have been for long shots or teams that are pretty much dead right now (I’m looking at YOU Indians, Giants and White Sox.)

But now it is time for one team that not only has a shot, but should be the prohibitive favorite against any team.

The Phillies were picked by many people (including yours truly) to win it all. And frankly it would be stunning if they didn’t. Now if you are the kind of person who doesn’t like offense, pitching and power, then the Phillies aren’t for you.

Today they clinched a playoff berth.
With 95 wins and 16 games left, they are a cinch for 100 wins.
If they win 102 games, they will have the best regular season record in franchise history.

And with the memory of last year’s stunning loss in the NLCS against San Francisco fresh in their minds, they have gone all in.

The Phillies are the Big Bad Wolf. They could turn the Red Sox or Yankees into underdogs.

So they are another big market Northeastern team with unruly fans using their deep pockets to buy another championship!

What could there POSSIBLY be to root for with a Phillies World Series title?

10 Reasons why the
Philadelphia Phillies
winning the 2011 World Series
would be good for baseball

1. Another World Series title would make Charlie Manuel’s Hall of Fame candidacy very compelling.

Charlie Manuel seems like a cool guy. A classic “Gold Ole Boy” Southern manager who has tamed the wild Philadelphia fanbase and delivered the city’s first Championship in a quarter century.

While the classic Hall of Fame manager seems to be a strategist or a fiery, who can deny the results. With a clinched playoff spot this year (and assuming the Division is inevitable) he will have 5 straight Division Titles, back to back pennants and the 2008 World Series title.

Throw in the fact that his Phillies zoomed past the Mets in the wild 2007 Division race and Manuel could be the best manager in the team’s history. Who is ahead of him?

(He also has another Division Title as a manager of the Indians.) If he wins another World Series title, his Cooperstown resume would start to look convincing.

2. Another title would shine light on the new “Core.”

Jimmy Rollins has been a Phillie for 11 plus seasons. Chase Utley has been a Phillie for 9 seasons. Ryan Howard has been a Phillie for 8 plus seasons. Cole Hamels has been a Phillie for 6 seasons. Ryan Madson has been a Phillie for 8 plus seasons. Carlos Ruiz has been a Phillies for 6 seasons.

They are all home grown players who have been together for all 5 Division Champions. Throw in Shane Victorino who came over to Philadelphia after making his big league debut with the Padres and you have a core of players who have been together through many different Octobers and give the Phillies a sense of stability with the franchise not seen since the Joe Torre Yankee days.

3. The redemption of Ryan Howard’s contract.

Speaking of that core, Ryan Howard has been much maligned since signing his long contract extension. I understand the deal emotionally. Having him play the bulk of his career in Philadelphia would mean that Phillies fans could invest some emotion in the big guy. And he is no doubt one of the more likable stars in the game.

But with his numbers declining (except RBI… the REASON he is paid so much) and the age of sluggers suddenly getting good again seems to be over, the deal looks like it might be an albatross for the next 5 years.

Ahh but what if he helps the Phillies earn ANOTHER World Series title? You could say “Sure he’s over paid and slipping, but that’s the price for an MVP, 3 pennants, an NLCS MVP and being part of 2 of the only 3 World Series titles in team history.”

4. Speaking of redemption, Philadelphia fans can show themselves in a better light.

You might not like it, Phillies fans, but you have one of the worst reputation in sports. I know not ALL of you booed Mike Schmidt… or Santa Claus for that matter. I know not ALL of you got tased or threw up on a little girl. But enough of you have to give Philadelphia sports fans a bad rep.

Want to change that? When the Phillies win the World Series, cheer. Clap. Stomp your feet. Have a great time. But don’t riot. Don’t flip cars over. Show some class. And you can say “Yeah, I’m a Philly fan. At least I’m not a Vancouver fan!”

5. Roy Halladay is great for baseball and deserves to be a champion.

As we move past the Steroid Era and pitchers are becoming more and more dominant, it would be nice to see the BEST current pitcher get a ring.

Halladay could win his third Cy Young this year (although it will probably go to Clayton Kershaw) and last year showed his greatness with a regular season perfect game and a playoff no hitter. Today he threw a complete game shutout to clinch a spot in October. He’s already a Hall of Famer. He is lacking the ring and he’ll join Tim Lincecum, CC Sabathia, Cole Hamels, Jon Lester, Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter as current aces who are also World Champions.

6. Cliff Lee’s bad ass-ness needs to be celebrated.

In 2009 World Series against the Yankees, Cliff Lee casually caught a pop up while barely moving his body. He just was so cool and non chalant. That’s how he plays the game. He is good. He KNOWS he is good. And he’ll just shut you down on HIS terms.

And those terms also means being a cool customer after being traded from the Indians to the Phillies to the Mariners and to the Rangers in two years. And cool in saying “Thanks but to thanks” to the Yankees money and declaring Philadelphia the place to win.

Like Halladay, Lee is one of the stars of post steroid pitching. And save for his two games in the World Series last year, has been as exciting a big game pitcher as you will see in baseball. He should be a champion.

7. Juan Samuel would get his World Series ring.

In the mid 1980s, Juan Samuel was the best second baseman in the National League not named Ryne Sandberg. He was part of the 1983 National League Champion Phillies and looked like he was going to be a staple in Philadelphia for a long time.

Then he went to the Mets, fetching Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell, which turned out to be one of the best deals in Phillies history. Samuel is a baseball lifer. He’s been a coach and briefly managed the disastrous Orioles last year before Buck Showalter arrived.

The three time All Star has been in professional baseball since 1980 but has never been part of a World Series winner. The current member of the Phillies coaching staff has earned it.

8. A World Series ring for Brian Schneider, the last Expo.

There are very few Montreal Expos left in baseball. Schneider is one of them and he played for the team as MLB was screwing the franchise sending them to San Juan, not letting them call up players in September even while Frank Robinson was putting a winning product on the field. When baseball sent an All Star team to Japan after 2004, the Expos last season, Schneider represented the team. When he returned, they were the Washington Nationals. So by definition, Schneider was the last ever Expo.

He’s now Carlos Ruiz’s backup and probably won’t see any action in the post season. But it would be nice to see one of the remnants of that lost team be rewarded.

9. Another title would make this the greatest Philadelphia team in history

If the Phillies win the World Series this year, which Philadelphia team would be better in history than this squad? The Dr. J/Moses Malone 76ers? The Broadstreet Bullies? The Jimmie Foxx/Lefty Grove Connie Mack led A’s?

This Phillies team might be better than them all.

And sometimes it is GOOD to see greatness unfold and the best of something emerge.

10. Sometimes it is good to have the best team win.

Yeah, underdogs are fun to see win. A little team that could like last year’s Giants or the 2006 Cardinals beating the odds can be appealing. But there are other times it is cool to see a team that is clearly the best in the sport take the title and the crown.

Sometimes seeing a champion who was the best from start to finish can be more satisfying than simply honoring whichever team happened to get hot over three weeks. This Phillies team was designed to win the whole damn thing and they played like it since April. There is something to be said for that.

Is there any doubt who the best team in baseball is? Then by definition they deserve to win the World Series!

Oh I know this will be a hard sell for a lot of you. Philadelphia is as bad as New York and Boston in terms of gluttony in many people’s eyes. (The Phillies payroll is now bigger than the Red Sox!) But trust me, the world won’t end if the Phillies win the World Series. And in many ways, it could be a very cool thing.

Show some brotherly love, my dear readers.

If you liked this then go ahead and read the entries for the other teams.


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