Fans at park say Manuel got raw deal

"I wish there was one more game to say goodbye to him. I blame management more than Manuel," said Phillies fan Greg Labuda, a resident of Easton, Pa.
"I wish there was one more game to say goodbye to him. I blame management more than Manuel," said Phillies fan Greg Labuda, a resident of Easton, Pa.
Posted: August 18, 2013

The equity that Charlie Manuel built with the fans was clear on the day he was dismissed as manager of the Phillies. Most fans surveyed in Citizens Bank Park's Ashburn Alley before Friday's game thought Manuel should have kept his job, at least until the end of the season.

He was replaced on an interim basis by third-base coach Ryne Sandberg, the Hall of Fame second baseman.

Manuel, hired by the Phillies in 2005, left with a 1,000-826 career record. His 780-636 mark with the Phils gives him more wins than any other manager in team history. Under Manuel, the Phillies won the 2008 World Series and competed in the Fall Classic the next year, and also won five straight division titles.

Manuel departed with his share of admirers, too.

"He ended being the sacrificial lamb," said Joe Chalk of Mountain Top, Pa.

Sue Smith, of West Grove, wearing a Phillies shirt, added: "I am so sad. He was a humble man who loved baseball and was a great baseball man."

Many fans objected to the timing of the decision, with 42 games remaining in the season.

"They cut him too soon," said Robert Mott, 18, of Philadelphia, wearing a Ryan Howard shirt. "They cut him too soon, and they weren't going to make the playoff anyway."

Then Mott added, "I appreciate what he has done. He is the best manager we ever had."

Larry Geller, of Chalfont, said, "The guy had success, they let him win 1,000, and dropped the bomb on him. It's absurd."

Wearing a Roy Halladay No. 34 jersey, Geller added, "I was stunned. There was no benefit by hiring Sandberg now."

Greg Labuda, of Easton, Pa., who was wearing a Halladay jersey, didn't like the way Manuel exited, during an afternoon news conference at the stadium.

"I wish there was one more game to say goodbye to him," Labuda said. "I blame management more than Manuel."

So did several other fans, who vented their frustration with general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.

"I think Amaro should have gone before Manuel," said Brian Riley, of Northeast Philadelphia, who was wearing a throwback Mike Schmidt shirt. "He had all that money to work with and didn't get it right."

Riley said he also liked the way Manuel dealt with the players.

"Almost everyone on the team is a millionaire, and he handled the players really well," Riley said.

Jerry Horgan of Wilmington has been a season-ticket holder since 1976, and he didn't hide his displeasure.

"They should get rid of Amaro," Horgan said. "This is a sad day."

Linda Sands, formerly of Collingswood, who moved to Los Angeles in 2009, was back home and attended Friday's game. She was a Phillies season-ticket holder from 1977 to 2009, and she didn't approve of the move.

"I am disappointed Charlie is not on the field," she said. She noted that the Dodgers didn't fire manager Don Mattingly when the team was doing poorly early in the season, "and look what happened."

Once 12 games under .500, the Dodgers entered Friday having won 40 of 48 games, and nobody was talking about Mattingly's job status.

Zack Striluk, 15, of Fairless Hills, didn't think Manuel's loyalty was rewarded.

"They should have waited until the end of the season," said Striluk, wearing a Cliff Lee shirt. "They didn't show the respect for somebody who meant so much to the team."

Not everybody was in Manuel's corner.

"This is bittersweet," said John Zyskowski of Bethlehem, Pa. "When we were good, we were really good, but we need somebody to get the team motivated.

"We need a Chip Kelly of the Philadelphia Phillies," he added, referring to the enthusiastic Eagles coach.

Steve Herman of Bensalem believes Manuel ran his course.

"It was time for Charlie to go," Herman said. "I hope the interim manager becomes the permanent manager."

Contact Marc Narducci at Follow on Twitter @sjnard.

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