Ed Rendell: Charlie deserves chance to restore Phillies' greatness

Charlie Manuel has been the best manager in baseball for years - even without the hardware to show for it. YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Charlie Manuel has been the best manager in baseball for years - even without the hardware to show for it. YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Posted: October 01, 2012

Well, it's finally over! The Phillies' late-season comeback all but ended last weekend, when, after beating the Braves Friday night, they lost on Saturday and Sunday. The Braves were not going to let the Phils into the playoffs, because they, like the rest of the National League, were wary of facing Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, et al., in a short series.

When a team that won 102 games the previous year wins almost 30 fewer and fails to make the playoffs, there is absolute certainty that the blame game will begin quickly, and it started here before the last bit of dirt was shoveled on the Phillies' grave. Most of the blame, understandably, was focused on Charlie Manuel. While it's true that Charlie made some mistakes this year, it should be absolutely clear that he is not the main reason for our collapse.

When a team loses its two best offensive players for more than half the season, loses its ace for 2 months, and its third baseman and All-Star catcher for a good chunk of the year, it's impossible for them to come close to their peak performance, and we didn't.

In our town, it's not surprising that some pundits and fans are calling for Charlie's head, but I believe he deserves to stay and get another chance with the team that he has nurtured for eight seasons. Our nucleus is still strong and if Doc Halladay shakes off his injury and bounces back (and I think he will), we will be a playoff team and a contender to win it all. There is reason to believe that we will have a healthy Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, and that David Montgomery and Ruben Amaro Jr. will go out and get us some help for the bullpen and some pop in the outfield (though I sure would like to see our seasonlong battler Juan Pierre return). If that happens, this nucleus will be poised for one last hurrah and Charlie deserves to lead it in that effort.

Charlie doesn't get the credit he deserves, because of the way he talks and because he is not a self-promoter like many other managers. But look at his record - there is none better in the past 8 years. His teams have won five division titles, two pennants and one world championship. Say what you will, but Charlie knows how to handle modern-day athletes, and they play for him and play well.

A perfect example of how Charlie doesn't get the respect he deserves is the fact that in those 8 years he has never been named the Manager of the Year - not even when we won it all in 2008, or last year when we won 102 (he came in fourth!). This team - with Chase, Ryan, Doc, Chooch, Cliff and Cole - has one more run in it, and Charlie surely has earned the chance to lead it!

A lot of people will say that if you bring Charlie back, we will lose the Triple A IronPigs' manager, Ryne Sandberg, who many experts think has the potential to be a great major league manager. They say that if we don't make him our manager in 2013, some other team will. That's a real possibility, so I believe we should make him our bench coach and announce that he will lead the team in 2014 and beyond. Would that make Charlie a lame duck and cause dissension? I don't think so. To the contrary, I believe it would make the team play even harder, to give Charlie the type of send-off he so richly deserves!


Contact Ed Rendell at asktheguv@gmail.com.

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