Thanks to the backing of a brilliant Cole Hamels performance and flashy, game-ending defensive play from rookie third baseman Cody Asche, the Philadelphia Phillies cooled down the red-hot Atlanta Braves on Monday night.
What would have normally passed for an innocuous August victory for a Phillies club destined for a losing season instead became a celebration of manager Charlie Manuel.
Philadelphia's 53rd victory of 2013 wasn't just another notch in the win column for an aging team, but rather the 1,000th career victory for Manuel as a skipper.
After the game, Manuel, speaking to Comcast Sports Net's Jim Salisbury, was reflective of his career, especially the winning achieved in Philadelphia.
“It’s definitely quite an achievement,” Manuel said. “Like I told my players, they’re the ones that make it happen. They play. The two organizations I’ve been with, they’re the ones that get the players for me. That just goes to show you just how good they are. It’s hard for me to stand there and say I accept all of my accolades because the other people are definitely achieving those for you. That’s kind of how I look at it. I’m sure later on it probably means a lot more to me than right now. We’re still trying to win some games.”
The last sentence of that quote is unfortunately the story in Philadelphia now, as Manuel's tenure could be coming to a close at the conclusion of the 2013 season.
As the Phillies chug along to a second consecutive season without postseason baseball, the Charlie Manuel Era can't properly be broken down and evaluated based on the end, but rather must be reflective upon the totality of accomplishments in Philadelphia under his watch.
From the day he arrived until now, the Phillies have been one of the National League's better teams. Starting in 2007, the team reeled off five consecutive National League East titles, advanced to three National League Championship Series, two World Series, and, of course, brought a World Series championship to Philadelphia in 2008.
When the roster was flush with prime-aged talent (think Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jayson Werth before age and attrition), Manuel, the former hitting guru in Cleveland, presided over a relentless and punishing offensive attack.
Every night under Manuel's watch, the Phillies were going to bring two attributes to the paying customers: Hard-hitting and inspired play.
From 2007-2011, the Phillies offense ranked second, seventh, sixth, 11th and 15th, respectively, in all of MLB in team OPS. Considering their place in the National League, without the luxury of a designated hitter, finishing in the top half of the sport in on-base plus slugging for five straight years is quite the accomplishment.
As the roster, specifically the offensive firepower, has taken a downturn over the years, the hard-hitting expectations have fallen precipitously, but the players have always respected and played hard for a manager that earned his keep in a city that can be notoriously tough on coaches.
It's likely that Manuel's last days in the Phillies dugout become uncomfortable for both the franchise and fanbase. Despite his accolades as a hitting coach and accountability from his 25-man roster, Manuel's age (69) and in-game shortcomings make it highly unlikely that a rebuilding team keeps him in the fold to oversee the next era of Phillies baseball.
However, years from now, when the dust settles on the last era of Phillies baseball, Manuel should be recognized alongside the players, executives and coaches that made the 2007-2011 teams so dominant.
Charlie Manuel was the perfect manager for those teams. In a city that has been starved for professional championships, Manuel delivered what so few others couldn't.
His place on the Phillies Wall of Fame should be secured.
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