Extra Cheese: Phillies are champions - who needs awards?

The Phillies' Charlie Manuel was snubbed for manager of the year again, but he took home a much bigger prize.
The Phillies' Charlie Manuel was snubbed for manager of the year again, but he took home a much bigger prize.
Posted: November 22, 2008

The Phillies' World Series glow is barely starting to fade, and already the disrespect has begun.

But you knew it was going to happen.

It's no disgrace for Ryan Howard to lose the MVP award to Albert Pujols. But let's backtrack.

Just two years ago, when Howard also led the majors in home runs and RBIs, he won the award, prompting the following words from runner-up Pujols: "Someone who doesn't take his team to the playoffs doesn't deserve to win the MVP."

Pujols later softened his stance, but, oh, the irony now, Pujols winning it after his Cardinals failed to make the playoffs this season, finishing fourth in their division.

But the bigger crime this postseason was Charlie Manuel's being snubbed yet again.

Lou Piniella, manager of the year? Are you kidding me?

OK, I know, the voting is based on the regular season only, and the Cubs had the National League's best record in the regular season.

But preseason sports books had the Cubs at 12-1 to go all the way, while the Phillies were 18-1. The Cubs should have finished with a better record.

Manuel is calm and cool under fire, beloved by his players - and (at last) the fans as well. Piniella? He is the fire, beloved by . . . ummm, let me get back to you on that one. You can't spell "loud" without L-O-U. He even made a TV commercial in which he goes out and screams compliments at the umpire. This is not a man with an unfair reputation. He has earned it.

The Phils finished first because of Charlie's calm, guiding hand. The Cubs finished first despite Piniella's fire and brimstone.

So take a deep breath. We've been dissed before. Tell yourself it's just like the Oscars: It has no bearing whatsoever on reality. . . .

The MVP and manager-of-the-year awards are icing on the cake. But this year, Philadelphia owns the cake. And really, that's all that matters.

Perhaps you noticed the story last week about the thieves who stole a boxing ring in Toledo, Ohio. In a sport in which one often suspects fights are being stolen, we now have a case when the entire ring has been taken.

So who would take a whole boxing ring? And why? What, you can't rope off a square area and throw some punches? And how do you get a ring out of the gym? And how do you fence a ring? And what do you call a pack of thieves who do such a thing? A ring ring?

Anyone with knowledge of the whereabouts of said ring was being urged to give Toledo police a, um, ring.

Betting is an inexact science, to say the least. Everybody has a favorite system for picking winners, but here's one with legs. This prognosticating curiosity is a 2,600-pound Bactrian camel named Princess, who lives at the Popcorn Park Zoo in Lacey Township, N.J.

(A Bactrian camel is the kind with two humps, as opposed to the single-hump dromedary.)

This quadrupedal handicapper clearly has gotten over the hump this NFL season, starting off 10-0 in picking games. She also picked the Giants over the Patriots in February's Super Bowl, and, "If I was a gambling man, I'd look to Princess before I placed a bet," said John Bergmann, the zoo's general manager.

The camel, which once belonged to heiress Doris Duke, has a simple way of predicting the outcome of games.

Bergmann will choose a game at random, write the names of competing teams on each hand, then place a graham cracker in each. Whichever hand Princess nibbles from is her "pick" for that week.

Maybe someone should feed those Vegas bookmakers a graham-cracker diet.

But alas, all streaks must end. The camel said to go with the Patriots over the Jets a week ago Thursday night. It was close. In a real barn burner, the Jets won it, 34-31, in overtime. Oh, well. A 10-1 camel is still impressive. Even if the poor beast doesn't know you never bet against Brett Favre in the clutch.

Quick hits and headlines

'Pacman' Jones eligible to play Dec. 7

Say what you will about the wisdom of letting this bad boy back onto the field, you have to give NFL commissioner Roger Goodell points for picking the "date which will live in infamy" for Pacman's return.

Real Salt Lake eliminates Chivas USA

And I always thought salt went with tequila, not Scotch.

Diamondbacks find new pool sponsor

Apparently Philadelphia isn't the only place where they have a hard time keeping the swimming pools open. Arizona's Chase Field has a pool beyond the center-field wall, which was sponsored by a swimming pool company that has filed for bankruptcy. (How anyone can go bankrupt selling swimming pools in Arizona is another story.) The new sponsor sells watercraft, among other things. No word on whether fans will be permitted to ride Jet Skis in the ballpark's pool.

Wrestler banned two years for Olympic medal protest

CORSIER-SUR-VEVEY, Switzerland - The Swedish wrestler who dropped his medal in protest during the Beijing Olympics has been banned from the sport for two years.

Lucky for him the Olympics are only held every FOUR years.

Wright says Mets need 'face-lift'

They can start with new fans.

This article contains information from Inquirer wire services.

Contact staff writer Al Campbell

at 215-854-5414

or acampbell@phillynews.com.

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