If you have watched the Philadelphia Phillies play baseball this season, then you are aware that this isn’t a very good team. On both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, the Phillies are a mess and most fans are just counting the days until the inevitable fire sale at the trade deadline.
And through it all, Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg has been cool, calm and collected. While the media and fans have raked the team over the coals, he has stayed the course. Even while his players have sometimes gotten frustrated with the situation, such as Cole Hamels after an 11-innings loss against the New York Mets, Sandberg has been a picture of tranquility. Even when calls went against his team and cost them a game, he has been professional and composed, talking about how the team needs to play better fundamental baseball.
Up until yesterday, that is.
The Phillies were coming off a win against the Cincinnati Reds that Sandberg had hoped would light a fire under his under-performing team and get some momentum going before it was too late. And it looked as if it might happen as the Phillies were down 6-3 in the sixth inning but mounting a comeback when Marlon Byrd was thrown out at the plate. A victim of rule 7.13, which was added this year to help govern collisions between a runner and the catcher at home plate, it was the fourth time this season the new rule had been used against the Phillies. After a review, the call was upheld and Sandberg, uncharacteristically, exploded.
Sandberg went off on umpire Tom Hallion, using language not fit for a family website, looking for an explanation on the ruling and not getting one. Sandberg was ejected for his efforts, the first time that has happened while he has been a manager and only the second time during his baseball career.
But given how the Phillies have been playing, you have to wonder why it didn’t happen sooner.
In his time as manager, it has been said Sandberg has been too laid back and easy on the players and wasn’t showing enough of a sense of urgency, which is why some feel he may have already lost the Phillies’ locker room. And while no one wants to return to the kind of tirades that were a regular occurrence when the Phillies had a manager like Larry Bowa, seeing a little emotion from Sandberg was a welcome change. It might show his players that while things do look bleak for the Phillies, there is no reason to pack it in just yet.
The tone of any sports team starts from the top and works down from there. Maybe now that the Phillies have seen some passion from their coach, they will start to play with some on the field.