Charlie Manuel was relieved of his duties from the Philadelphia Phillies organization just eight days ago. However, after a slow start, the rejuvenated Phillies and new manager Ryne Sandberg are playing possibly their grittiest ball of the season.
Three nights ago, it was Michael Young‘s single. Two nights ago, it was Dominic Brown with a single of his own. In two nights. the Phillies brought excitement back, but not to be out done, Chase Utley walked with the bases-loaded to upend the Diamondbacks for Philadelphia’s third straight (walk-off) win.
After a slow beginning to Sandberg’s tenure, the Phillies have bounced back and showed a knack for clutch hitting, passionate play and a “never say die” attitude. This is a far cry from the likes of Jimmy Rollins jogging to first base, Jonathan Papelbon blowing saves with zero energy and the lineup as a whole being dull and predictable.
One thing Sandberg has been able to do throughout his managerial career is get the best out of his players. He managed three of the Chicago Cubs‘ minor league ball clubs, leading two of them to first-place finishes, including leading Tennessee to a Southern League Championship.
Upon his arrival in triple-A Lehigh Valley he picked up right where he left off, leading the Iron Pigs to their first winning record and a wild card birth en route to being named the 2011 Manager of the Year.
As if Sandberg’s minor league statistics don’t speak for themselves, the current play of the Phillies do. Throughout the course of this season, the Phillies seemed to prance around the field with no sense of urgency. Players weren’t running out balls, playing intelligent baseball or showing up to the ball park with the passion we as Phillies fans want to see.
Though you can not fully blame Charlie Manuel, the long list of inexcusable actions were adding up and the team needed a change. Since Sandberg’s arrival, all of that has changed — and for the better.
It is too early to tell if Sandberg is the answer for this Phillies baseball team, but in just a few short games, Phillies fans are getting excited about what they see. This is no longer a team that will shut it down if they are down 3-0, but a team that understands a game lasts a full 27 outs.
Maybe Sandberg isn’t the long-term answer, but seeing how this team has pulled a complete 180, the fans can only be optimistic about things to come.