On a Saturday night where the Philadelphia Phillies gave former manager Charlie Manuel the ultimate honor by putting him on the team’s Wall of Fame, one thought stood out — the team may have done him a favor by firing him on Aug. 16, 2013.
The guys standing on the podium with him were all old and gray Saturday night, but Manuel will forever stay young in Philadelphia because he’s no longer in charge of a dysfunctional group.
That’s because by firing Manuel, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. became the lightning rod for all of the team’s ills and not Manuel himself. Manuel got a long standing ovation after his remarks during Saturday night’s induction ceremony and it’s hard to imagine Amaro — should he be inducted next year or the year after, if at all — getting the same kind of reception.
In reality, though, the Phillies did Manuel a favor because, despite being the winningest manager in the team’s history, he had lost control of the clubhouse by the time he was fired. He favored veteran, under-performing players over younger guys who had earned a longer look.
Also, Manuel was seen as playing favorites, including with shortstop Jimmy Rollins. In the early days of Manuel’s managerial career, he would bench Rollins for jogging down to first base even on ground balls to the deep infield. By the time Manuel was fired, he often looked the other way.
Manuel might have been the greatest manager in Phillies history from a win-loss perspective, but he’s 70 now, and even one-time great managers, like great players, reach the point of diminishing returns. That’s the point Manuel reached in August last year.
Manuel is now a beloved figure in Philadelphia and you cannot say the same thing for the person who fired him.