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Charlie Manuel clearly frustrated as Phillies' ship sinks further


In a sad way, it’s kind of fitting that six years after their much more serious initial spat that Charlie Manuel once again threatened to take Howard Eskin to the woodshed during a Phillies post-game press conference after Friday night’s loss to the Mets at Citizens Bank Park.Photo: Crossing Broad


As you might recall (or might not if you only recently began following the Phillies the last few years), Manuel, then in his third season as the Phillies’ skipper in 2007, had come off two consecutive second place finishes. From 2001 to 2006, the Phillies either just missed grabbing the NL East title or Wild Card spot in four out of those six years. The 2007 Phillies got off to a 3-9 start, and there were rumblings that the Phillies’ front office was tiring at the team’s constant failure to reach the postseason.


Eskin (a contributor to our book A Snowball’s Chance) had arguably been Manuel’s biggest critic upon his arrival in Philadelphia, and that press conference was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Manuel promptly challenged Eskin, and the confrontation went beyond the press conference and went behind closed doors. Following the outburst, Manuel and Eskin had become friendly, and the rest is history.  Five months later, the Phillies went on one of the more improbable September runs in baseball history- coming back from seven and a half games with 17 to play to overthrow the Mets and win their first of five consecutive NL East crowns. A world championship followed in 2008 and another pennant in 2009.


Unfortunately, things have now come full circle- and not in a good way. The Phillies are once again a sub .500 team, but there doesn’t seem to be that much hope of a comeback in 2013. They don't resemble anything close to that young and hungry 2007 squad. Moreover, they can’t even hold a 3-1 lead to the Mets let alone display the heroics they did during that memorable summer six seasons ago. Friday night, Manuel once again got fed up with Eskin’s questions regarding the Phillies’ hopeless offense, and it was deja vu all over again.


“I don’t know what I can do, Howard. If we don’t hit and score runs, I don’t know what we can do. I don’t know what nobody else can do about it and I know you can’t do a damn thing about it. So, what else do you want to know? Happy?” said Manuel.


After he got up, Eskin delivered the final blow:


“When are you gonna score 10 runs, that’s what I want to know.”


“When I knock you out,” replied Manuel.

Yes, the tone was more light hearted at Friday’s press conference than it was six years ago, but Manuel had clearly had enough and clearly got his point across. Enough of the same questions about the offense, enough of being asked when Ryan Howard will finally come around, enough of why their bullpen is horrid. Enough is enough for everybody at this point.


It’s pretty obvious to all at this point that anything less than a World Series Championship will make 2013 Manuel’s swan song in Philadelphia. This Phillies team is aging rapidly, every minute you turn around, another Phillies is being placed on the disabled list, and overall the synergy is just not there.


Manuel isn’t the only Phillie to express his discontent with the way things have unravelled.  Phillies’ closer Jonathan Papelbon decided to speak his mind about several issues after Wednesday night’s loss to the Nationals- namely the Phillies’ lack of fundamentals. Manuel had a little bit of an issue with Papelbon’s comments as well, and clearly intimated that he wasn’t opposed to talking about it with Papelbon, either. Snowball's Chance Ad

























It’s kind of fitting after blowing two saves this week that Papelbon decided to call out his teammates and possibly his coaches. To be fair, he’s had been been automatic all season prior to this week. No, he’s not a position player, but you haven’t heard a peep from Howard, Jimmy Rollins or Chase Utley about anything related to the Phillies’ play on the field. All they say is how confident they are that the Phillies can turn things around. Papelbon is frustrated, and it’s about time somebody besides Manuel spoke up about the lackluster play of this team.


It’s pretty ironic that the two Phillies whose names have been mentioned the most in trade talks (Cliff Lee and Papelbon) have pulled no punches in voicing their displeasure about the team not playing the game the right way. In all honesty, both are pretty accurate in their assessments. You don’t hear of too many issues with outfield positioning, but if you look up an example of how not to play the game of baseball in a current baseball encyclopedia, the 2013 Phillies would arguably be the first team featured. Nobody walks on this team, plate discipline is non-existent, and they’re not exactly fundamental defensive stalwarts, either. Add those to an overall shaky bullpen and you have what you have- a sub .500 team. Manuel knows this, he’s been saying this for two years, and Friday night’s outburst is a clear act of frustration.


Unfortunately, Manuel can vent all he wants, but the way this Phillies team is playing is setting the stage for an anticlimactic and rather disappointing ending to one of the greatest successful stretches of Phillies baseball this franchise will likely ever see.


Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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Photo: CrossingBroad.com

Video courtesy of CSN