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Charlie Manuel Talks Phillies' Offensive Woes, Chase Utley, Domonic Brown and more with Phantasy Interviews

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Charlie Manuel has managed the Philadelphia Philliescharlie manuel during arguably the most successful era in their long, sometimes tortured history.

In the middle of his seventh campaign as their skipper, Charlie has them atop the NL East (and with the best overall record in baseball) for what would be their fifth consecutive division title. But when I sat down with Charlie on the team’s day off Monday, he did not seem to be in the greatest of spirits.

In fact, I needed a translator to understand some of his mutterings—all were in his characteristic, rural/southern drawl, and some were uttered in Japanese—a language that he speaks with fluency, if southern US fluency. He also had a strange plate of food sitting in front of him that he never even picked at.

Matt: It’s a pleasure to have an interview with you, Charlie. Congratulations on having the Phillies in first place again.

Charlie: Thanks, but hey, there’s an old West Virginia saying that nobody wins a pennant in June.

Matt: True, But it’s better to be five games up than five games out, right?  Say, feel free to eat that rather interesting plate of food you’ve got there. What is that, anyway?

Charlie: It’s one of my favorite dishes, one that combines my West Virginia and Japanese roots. I call it Hush Puppy Baked Crab Tempura Teriyaki. It’s really good but I’m too sick to eat. You want some?

Matt:  No, it’s not kosher.

Charlie: You keep kosher?

Matt:  No.  Where were we?  

Charlie: I was sayin’ that if we can’t hit the darn ball, we gonna be five games out dang soon.

Matt:    Even with your pitching staff?

Charlie: How many runs we score on Sunday against that Jason Vargas guy?

Matt:    None, Charlie. Was his stuff that good?

Charlie: It don’t have to be no good the way we been swunging the bats. You know, Vargas made 80 big league starts, and that was his second shutout. I told a reporter our hardest hits all day were foul balls. Heck, we barely had any of those and our batting practice strokes sucked as well.

Matt:    So, what’s the answer? It seemed like the offense was coming alive with Utley’s return, Victorino getting hot and Howard starting to really hit.

Charlie: Was that a question? Shoot, I was ready to grab me a bat with that slop he been throwing. Last time I hit, was in Japan. I really growed up as a hitter there. (mutters something in Japanese.)

Matt:    (puzzled by the muttering) Charlie, your team still seems to be susceptible to good left-handed pitching this year. Do you miss Jayson Werth in the lineup?

Charlie: JW would help us, sure. But Ruben wanted Cliff Lee instead. Hell, I’d love ‘em both; but it ain’t my money. And Francisco ain’t hitting, so it looks no good there.

Matt:    Charlie, it’s not like you to criticize your players publicly. You’re known to be a great player’s manager. Do you yell and scream behind closed doors?

Charlie:  Sometimes, you gotta show them some emotion and hollerin’. Sure. every now and then, I tear them a new one if you catch my drift.

Matt:  Not to be too literal, Charlie, but why would anyone need a new one?

Charlie:  If they’re old one’s constipated and not producing no runs, they need a new one.  Kinda like our hitting this year. There’s an old southern Japanese expression about this.

Matt:  Really?

Charlie: Yep. Sadaharu Clampett once said, and I quote, 私の祖母が左利き、私達wouldn' tは彼女に、どちらか当った。。

Matt:  Glad I asked. I got the wouldn’t  part, I think. So, let me change the subject just a little.

Charlie: Yeah, that’s alright.

Matt:    You’ve acquired the nickname Uncle Cholly. Do you like it?

Charlie:  It’s okay to read it, but don’t nobody call me that in person. Who calls me that?

Matt:    I’ve seen it in print lots of times. I think it’s a compliment that you’re real, unpretentious and approachable. There are lots of stories about you taking time out just to talk baseball with people you meet.

Charlie: I do that for two reasons. One, I love the game of baseball. It’s the greatest game on earth. Even when we can’t hit the dang ball. 私の祖母が左利き、私達wouldn' tは彼女に、どちらか当った。

Matt:  And your other reason?

Charlie:  Maybe some of them will know a right fielder who can hit righty.

Matt:  Is Domonic Brown the answer?

Charlie: No. He don’t bat right.

Matt:  But can he hit lefties?

Charlie: Dom’s a great kid, and he’s gonna be a good one. But we’re trying to win it all this year. Not sure he’s ready to be an everyday guy just yet.

Matt:  Do you envision Ruben Amaro picking up a veteran guy before the trade deadline?

Charlie: I’ll know it when I see it. Rube’s been pretty good on July 31 before, so we’ll just see if he responds to my request to pick somebody up.

Matt: Like a Josh Winningham or a Michael Cuddyer?

Charlie: They’d look alright here, don’t you think?

Matt:  Are you feeling more pressure to win it all this year, Charlie?

Charlie:  You know, you get up and make out the lineup card 162 times and you know that don’t mean squat. Unless we miss the playoffs, and then I stink, even after what we all accomplished. And then, the playoffs come and the whole dang thing may come down to one game, one at-bat or one pitch by some guy like Vargas who sucks.

Matt:  So, the pressure’s not really on just yet?

Charlie: There’s pressure all the time to stay in first and play good ball for the fans. There be pressure to hit the ball when some journeyman is throwing crap up there like that Vargas kid. 私の祖母が左利き、私達wouldn' tは彼女に、どちらか当った。There’s pressure—

Matt: Hold on there, Charlie. You keep muttering that same Japanese expression. Can you translate it for your fans out there?

Charlie:  For my fans? Sure. Just a little philosophic saying I mutter sometimes. It means If my Grandma were a lefty, we wouldn't hit her, either.

 

A Disclaimer: This conversation with Charlie Manuel did not really take place—but is it really all that far-fetched?

 

Along with being a lifelong Philly sports fan, Matt Goldberg is a unique, award-winning writer, speaker and all-around humorist who resides with his wife and son in South Jersey. He is a featured columnist for the Phillies for Bleacher Report, and is also the author of two new humor books—Wordapodia, Volume One, and All That Twitters is Not Goldberg.


For information on ordering books, requesting customized writing, media requests and special events, please contact matt@tipofthegoldberg.com  or visit www.tipofthegoldberg.com

 

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