Only Collins, cajoling a team low on talent but high on chutzpah to an upset of the top-seeded Bulls and a seventh game against the Celtics, held his price.
Not surprisingly, I have received impassioned pleas from the fan base to call for the ouster of the other three.
People like to say it's a Philly thing, but it's really a sports thing. Underwhelm or underperform, and the drumbeat for a new face at the helm will build. NBA coaches are hired and fired in midseason. Managers are, too. And while there is sometimes a quick, positive effect achieved by such moves — like when the Knicks replaced Mike D'Antoni with Mike Woodson — it very rarely leads to a championship in those sports. Jack McKeon bucked that trend when he took over a young, sub-.500 Marlins team in 2003 and led them to a World Series championship. When the team tried to repeat that formula last year, however, McKeon arely did better than predecessor Edwin Rodriguez, who had lost 10 straight and 18 of 19.
The exception to this may be in hockey. Two of the last four Stanley Cup champions had coaches who did not begin the season with the team: Pittsburgh's Dan Bylsma in 2009 and this year Darryl Sutter, who took over the Los Angeles Kings in midseason, moved them into the final spot of the Western Conference playoffs, then watched them glide to their unlikely Cup victory.
Joel Quenneville won his Stanley Cup in his second season as Chicago's coach. Peter Laviolette won his Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes after taking over midseason the previous year, and got the Flyers into the finals the same season that he took over. Dale Hunter nearly pulled off a miracle with Washington this spring.
Is hockey different? And if so, why?
"It's almost like everybody starts at zero with a new coach," Rick Tocchet, the former Flyer and former coach, said Thursday. "It's like a new season, even though it isn't."
"Terry Murray put the Kings' defensive system down," Ian Laperriere said. "Darryl Sutter just came in with a little more fire, which they needed."
It's such an effort game, hockey is, the difference between winning and losing is less about executing your system than it is getting to the puck first. A handful of plays were the difference between the Flyers reversing their fate against the Rangers this year, even amid the erratic play of their goaltender and the stellar seasonlong performance of Henrik Lundvqist.
Sometimes in the case of a coach, it's just a different voice, a clean slate, an added edge that puts a hockey team over the top. Like the Kings.
"If you have any conscience," said Tocchet, "you feel bad when a coach gets fired. So you go home that night, look in the mirror and say, ‘I've got to play better.' "
The Phillies have fielded well and played situational baseball horribly for years under Manuel, but his clubhouse has always been a relaxed and happy place, and, well, happy cows give the most milk. But it's hard to be happy when you're kicking the ball around the diamond and kicking your team into the cellar, so now a popular drumbeat is for the Phillies to replace Manuel with Ryne Sandberg or just about anyone else who will kick-start a roster filled with guys who have spent more time with Sandberg than with Charlie.
I admit, once upon a time I was in favor of removing Larry Bowa as the manager of the Phillies. I saw the Phillies' tendency to lose in streaks and win in streaks as evidence that he made them play tight. I thought they competed poorly against the better teams for the same reason.
The Phillies apparently thought this, too, in naming Manuel as his successor. Once, in his younger days, Charlie was much like Bowa, but his years of traipsing through the minors as a manager and hitting coach, he says, mellowed him, gave him the "players-coach" label he still wears today. Is that a good fit for this veteran team? Consider that the Red Sox, after their late-season crash, replaced the even-keeled Terry Francona with a more Bowa-like guy in Bobby Valentine. Even his detractors say Valentine knows the game. But of yet, it hasn't made the Red Sox any better.
Like the Sox and unlike the team Bowa managed, getting over the hump is not the issue for this Phillies team.
Being over the hill, though, might be.
Contact Sam Donnellon at firstname.lastname@example.org. For recent columns, go to www.philly.com/SamDonnellon.