Gut Check: Why Charlie Manuel Is an Even Bigger Winner By Losing

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Gut Check: Why Charlie Manuel Is an Even Bigger Winner By Losing
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Lets begin Spring Training 2010 with a light news story.

A story made even lighter by Phillies' skipper Charlie Manuel.

Ok, so my jokes are about as cold as Ryan Howard’s bat is this time of year. But let’s turn our attention back to Mr. Manuel.

Anyway, as everyone knows, “Big Chuck” hasn’t done too much losing in his five seasons as manager. His 447 regular season wins are third most in franchise history. His 20 career playoff victories are over twice as many as any other Phillies’ manager (Dallas Green had nine in 1980-81).

But don’t be fooled. Charlie Manuel has done a lot of losing since autumn ’08. It’s just that, most all of it’s taken place outside the ballpark.

Manuel has lost 56 pounds since leading the Phillies to just their second world championship in the franchise’s 126-year history. From 286 pounds down to 230 in just 14 months.

56 pounds, in perspective, is the average weight of an eight-year-old boy in the U.S.

So don’t be surprised if he looks a lot leaner as he lumbers out of the dugout to make pitching changes during the 2010 season.

Manuel is a Type-2 diabetic who over the years has survived a heart attack, quadruple bypass surgery, and cancer. But how did he lose so much weight so fast?

The one-word answer: Nutrisystem.

Most of us laugh a little when he see those Nutrisystem TV commercials with the likes of Dan Marino and Don Shula talking about how much weight they’ve lost while being on its diet. But Charlie Manuel took the Pennsylvania-based company’s message to heart.

“Some of them are actually pretty good,” Charlie told NBC Sports in mid-January when speaking about the quality of Nutrisystem meals.

Manuel stayed true to the Nutrisystem meal plan even while on the road last season. He has said he would heat up his food in a microwave and bring it to the Phillies’ pre or post-game meal. It was that simple. Thus, the man who once said he could never stop eating is now consuming less than 1,500 calories per day.

Clearly, Charlie Manuel is “winning” by “losing” in the type of battle that transcends the very sport that crowned him a world champion just two short falls ago.

Obesity and heart disease are still persistent epidemics in this country. And Charlie Manuel’s personal victory over his own once-ravenous appetite should serve as inspiration for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who face dietary health battles of their own.

It took Charlie Manuel four years, over 350 regular season victories, and one unforgettable World Series win to gain managerial respect in the “City of Brotherly Love.”

But hopefully, its only taken him one heavy-duty diet to gain the respect he deserves as a man.

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