Dick Jerardi: Charlie Manuel's the man, even around a movie star

Posted: October 06, 2010

IT WAS CLOSING on noon yesterday when I drove within a few blocks of Citizens Bank Park. Figuring we had more than enough people there for the Roy Halladay news conference, I made a quick detour to the Turf Club on Packer Avenue where I retrieved the scratches for the card at Parx Racing.

I wasn't there long, but I was there long enough to hear some guy mutter under his breath about "lowlifes betting $2 per race." I wasn't sure if he was talking about himself.

Who knew . . .

That WIP's Howard Eskin had a heart.

While I was hanging outside the basement media room, Charlie Manuel got off the elevator and headed down the hallway for his news conference. Eskin called after him: "Good luck, Charlie." Charlie looked back and said: "Thanks, Howard."

I am not making this up. That scene really did happen. Howard really is a warm and fuzzy guy. He just chooses not to let any of his listeners know.

Impossible not to love him

Speaking of Charlie, the Phils manager has come quite a long way from his legendary postgame "flusterated" comment early in his tenure. Now the man is among the most beloved sports figures in this city's history.

As Charlie was talking, I slid down next to old friend Ken Rosenthal from foxsports.com. He concurred that Charlie is not to be missed.

A few Charlie gems:

* Is Halladay hungry to compete in his first postseason: "Starving."

* On that team meeting in New York: "What I say usually comes from the heart because a lot of times I don't know what I'm saying."

* On his tone at team meetings: "Usually, we'll start off and try to be kind of diplomatic or whatever. But that doesn't work because that's not who I am and I end up screaming and hollering."

While listening to Charlie, Ken wanted to know about my star turn in the "Secretariat" movie that opens Friday. More on that in Friday's Daily News.

After Charlie finished, Mike Missanelli, of 97.5-The Fanatic, told me I was "brilliant" in "Secretariat." Who didn't know that?

Did I mention that the movie opens Friday?

The traveling man

Old friend Scott Palmer, formerly of 6ABC and now with the Phillies, told me that former Phils reliever Scott Eyre is going to throw out the first pitch before tonight's playoff game with the Reds. Told me Eyre took his family and four dogs on a 2-month RV tour of the country this summer. Wanted to know if I want to talk with Eyre.

Absolutely.

I remembered Eyre, now 38, as that lefty arm who helped the Phils win the 2008 World Series and get to the 2009 Series. And, in the only time I ever spoke to him, as a very interesting guy unafraid to say what was on his mind.

Eyre could have gotten a job this year, but decided it was time. He wanted to hang with his wife and his 10- and 12-year-old sons. So he did.

It was the first time in 30 years he did not play baseball. Instead, the family took off from the Florida Gulf Coast on June 5 and went west. The trip ended on Aug. 12.

"We never stayed in a hotel," Eyre said. "We stayed in the RV every night. It's not small. It's a 40-foot RV."

Eyre watched many Phillies games on the trip. Actually, he mostly listened while he drove, with occasional glances at the screen above him.

They were in Yellowstone. Saw Mount Rushmore. Went to Vancouver Island. Went to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Stopped to spend time with friends and family all over the country.

You can check out the trip details and see just how big a 40-foot RV/Bus is at www.retirementsuitsusjustfine.blogspot.com.

How fast is that?

Reds lefty Aroldis Chapman threw 25 pitches on Sept. 24 against the Padres.

Every one was 100 mph or more. One was 105 mph. Is it possible to see a ball that is going that fast?

Undoubtedly, Chapman has never heard of Steve Dalkowski. Way before radar guns, it was estimated Dalkowski threw 110 or 115 mph. Google him. It is a fascinating story.

The Votto factor

I knew Reds first baseman Joey Votto had a great year. I didn't know it was this good. He was second in the league in batting (.324), third in homers (37), RBI (113) and total bases (328) and tied for fourth in runs (106). He was also tops against righthanded pitchers (.341) and second in average with runners in scoring position (.369).

How good

I don't go that far back, but I think this is the best Phillies team in history. They might not win the World Series because runs are so precious. The very nature of the sport makes the difference among playoff teams minute.

Still, unless they don't hit at all in a series, I think it is going to be very hard for any of the other seven teams in the playoffs to beat them. This team simply is not going to give up many runs. And they are going to be relaxed in the big moments since the core has encountered so many of them in the last 4 years.

When July turned to August, the Phillies got into postseason mode. Once they got rolling, they were inevitable. This will be harder than the division, but the Phils are absolutely the team to beat. And that wasn't true in 2008 or 2009 when they won it and almost won it again. It is surely true now.

Send e-mail to jerardd@phillynews.com

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