My first reaction upon hearing that the Phillies had fired manager Charlie Manuel last week with 42 games remaining in the final season of his contract was, “Oh dear God, are there really still 42 games left season? Someone please make it stop.” My second reaction was that it seemed uniquely cruel and pointless not to let him manage the final few weeks and go out to much-deserved thunderous applause on the last day of the season.
My third reaction, after watching the Phillies continue to flounder under interim manager Ryne Sandberg, was that the team did Charlie Manuel a huge favor. Immediately upon his firing, Manuel went from being, at best, an innocent bystander to a train wreck of a season to someone whose larger body of work as a manager was suddenly fully appreciated. He was once again our beloved Cholly who brought our city its only major championship since the Pleistocene age, and who memorably shouted “This is for Philadelphia!” while celebrating the 2008 World Series.
The moment his tenure with the Phillies ended shortly after his 1,000th win as a Major League manager, Cholly went from being a helpless old man who had lost his ability to motivate an aging core group of players to being yet another victim of the man who Phillies fans blame (rightly, most would argue) for the downfall of the franchise—general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr., known for the last several seasons as “Ruin Tomorrow, Jr.”