Ruben Amaro Jr. has repeatedly said he expects to re-sign his manager. And more than once Manuel said that getting a new deal is "only a matter of time." That's the operative word - time. Time is the issue and always has been.
On the time line of Philly sports, there is B.C. and A.D. - Before Charlie and After the Drought. Before Charlie, the Phillies made the postseason just once in 21 years. Since hiring Manuel, the Phils have reached the playoffs four times in six seasons. They have won four NL East titles. They have reached three straight NL Championship Series, two consecutive World Series, and - here's the important part - ended the city's misery and frustration by delivering the town's first championship in 25 years.
Even more remarkable: After the Drought, the city's sports psyche changed. A fan base that once had an intimate and dysfunctional relationship with disappointment has moved on and now enjoys a much healthier and happier love affair with success.
That wasn't all Manuel's doing, of course, but he deserves his share of the credit. When measured against other managers, Manuel's achievements stack up better than anyone could have anticipated when he landed the gig.
Some still don't dig that he manages by his once-sizable gut rather than being just another mindless slave to the baseball book, but it's hard to argue with his accomplishments. In six seasons, he has led the Phils to 544 wins, more than any other club in the National League. Over that span, his 25 postseason wins are more than any other manager in baseball. His .560 winning percentage is third-best in franchise history, and he's just 103 victories away from passing Gene Mauch for the most career wins by a Phillies manager.
According to several reports, Manuel made $1.5 million in 2008 and 2009, while he took home $1.7 million in 2010. Depending on which account you believe, he's scheduled to make somewhere between $2.4 and $3 million this season. Not bad for spitting sunflower seeds and spinning dugout witticisms.
Except that Jim Leyland - the guy a lot of Fightin's fans wanted the organization to hire after Larry Bowa was fired - will reportedly make $4 million in 2011.
The Tigers won the AL pennant in 2006, Leyland's first season in Detroit, but haven't been back to the playoffs since. And for those of you who lose track of this sort of thing, for their careers, Leyland and Manuel have the same number of pennants (2) and World Series titles (1).
The Tigers, though, didn't bring in Ryne Sandberg and install the former Cubs star as the triple-A manager in Lehigh Valley - barely a fungo fly ball away from Citizens Bank Park. Sandberg has made it pretty clear that he wants to be a big-league manager sooner rather than later.
Maybe adding Sandberg to the organization was the prudent thing to do; after all, Manuel is 67 years old and he can't go on working forever. He can, however, go on working for a little while longer - two or three more seasons at least, according to Manuel.
"I definitely feel like in the last six years, with the things we've done on the field, that this is the place I belong and this is where I want to stay," Manuel recently told The Inquirer. "This is where I want to end my career."
And this is where he should end his career, on his terms - or at least terms that don't force him to sit around and wait (and wait, and maybe wait some more).
From the "Where Are They Now" file: Yahoo Sports tracked down former Sixers center Todd MacCulloch (http://bit.ly/edNWQf). According to the piece, he spends much of his time "playing pinball and drinking from his own Slurpee machine." He's gotten so good at it that he's ranked 145th in the world - in pinball, not Slurpee drinking, though the other way around might be better. . . . Norm MacDonald will be back on television soon. Comedy Central will start telecasting Sports Show With Norm MacDonald in April. . . . Ask Gonzo is moving to a new day and time. Pop culture fanboys and daytime boozers will find the chat on Philly.com on Mondays at noon.
Contact columnist John Gonzalez at 215-854-2813 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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