Red October

There’s an old saw about coaches: if they listen to the fans too much, they’ll wind up sitting with them. So after my beloved Philadelphia Phillies dispatched the Milwaukee Brewers to go to the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, I made my peace with Phils’ manager Charlie Manuel.

I wasn’t in favor of his hiring in 2004, thinking he wasn’t a good enough manager to win a championship for a city famously starved for a champion. And it was rough sledding in the beginning, Manuel not seemingly able to handle the intricacies of National League-style of play, and frequently taking on criticism for his in-game handling of pitchers and his “country bumpkin” persona. I joined the chorus to oust Manuel. I even refused to go to Phillies games until there was a regime change (except for that one time when Luke came in all the way from Nashville and wanted to take in a Phils game).

But his players never abandoned him during those rough times. They improved as a team each year since then (with some key moves by General Manager Pat Gillick), and won the National League East division crown and made the playoffs last year. And even though they lost in those playoffs, I felt he deserved a contract extension, and he received one. And the Phillies won the NL East again this year. And beat those Brewers. And tonight, the Phillies beat L.A. and are in the World Series.

The Phillies are in the World Series for the first time in 15 years, led by a stand-up guy who took the criticism along the way, got the job done, and not a week ago lost his 87-year old mother. So I’m proven dyn-o-wrong. Happy to be wrong. Good onya, Charlie Manuel.

Go Phils!

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