ED CONDRAN: Put Manuel behind the microphone
When Charlie Manuel was managing the Phillies, he would often talk about how important it was to utilize his players in the right roles. Should the Phillies think that way now since the most successful manager in team history has returned, albeit as an advisor?
It makes sense that Manuel, who knows hitting like Ryan Howard knows the Subway sandwich board, will work with minor league batters and scout at the major and minor league levels.
However, how much would the Phillies television audience appreciate Manuel in the booth?
“Charlie just doesn’t know baseball, he’s a really smart and funny guy,” former Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. “I’ve known him for years and I really respect him. This is a guy that could do anything in baseball. He can help a guy hit, he can manage and he’s someone that is entertaining enough to broadcast a game.”
Those who dismissed Charlie Manuel as a dumb country bumpkin are sadly mistaken. “Charlie is like (‘70s television detective) Columbo,” Jerry Manuel said. “He’s one step ahead of everyone and sly as a fox.”
That’s exactly what would enhance the Phillies broadcast experience. Charlie Manuel, who was always great extemporaneously after games, has tossed some gems at the media.
“That’s not old school, that’s good school,” Manuel said after Utley’s aggression on the basepaths won a big game for the Phillies during the ‘08 stretch run. “That’s the way you play the game unless you want to put some rouge and makeup and lipstick on.”
When the Phillies were shutout, which was often after recent years, Manuel put it all in perspective. “You don’t many games when you don’t score no runs,” Manuel said.
The sage pushed his message across while tossing a triple negative. “Chuck is hilarious,” former Phillie Vance Worley said. “There’s nobody like him. He knows baseball. He cares about baseball and he’s incredibly entertaining.”
That’s a big reason why Manuel might be better served providing colorful commentary. If play-by-play announcer Tom McCarthy asks him about Domonic Brown struggling in left field, Manuel will set him straight.
“Pat Burrell once played out there,” which is what Manuel said when asked about former Phillie Raul Ibanez’ defensive shortcomings.
Manuel would often keep beat reporters entertained by dropping endless baseball anecdotes. The colorful baseball lifer would spin yarns about his greatest influence, Harmon Killebrew, his most apt pupil, Chase Utley and his most mercurial player, Manny Ramirez.
“I remember one time when I was with the Indians and Manny lost his luggage,” Manuel said. “In that luggage were a couple of really big checks but he didn’t care about that. What did he care about? Some necklaces he had in there. But that was Manny for you.”
The booth would be perfect for Manuel. But would number 41 accept such a gig? “I look at my future this way,” Manuel said during his final spring training as Phillies manager last February. “What I’ll be doing five years from now, I don’t know. Who knows? But I’ll bet I’ll be doing something in baseball. I’ll be doing whatever it is they need me to do.”
Charlie, the microphone is calling your name.