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Two More Years! Two More Years!
2007-10-10 09:23
by Mike Carminati

…And an option for a third, yet!

Amid rumors ranging from his dismissal to his beautification—by the largely uninformed national press who turned him into a modern-day Will Rogers for fifteen minutes— and purported threats that he would take no less than a new two-year contract, Charlie Manuel re-signed with the Phils for two years at $1.5 per year plus a club option for 2010. This equates to signing a player after a career year.

Many Phillies fans, angered by the teams quick hook in the playoffs and Charlie's quick hook with Kyle Kendrick in game 2, were calling for the manager's head. During the playoffs, the Phils reverted to their previous undisciplined selves. Their hitters swung early and often and more than a few (Utley and Rowand in particular) looked overmatched. Relief pitchers faltered. They scored eight runs in three games with five home runs.

The Phils were in a hard spot. It looked like the Phils were set to let Manuel go after three years of near misses. This team always looks for a scapegoat at the end of an unsuccessful season, and they had GM Pat Gillick's former manager Jimy Williams as athe bench coach, but their late-season surge coupled with an historic collapse by the Mets got them the division title they have been seeking for fourteen years. Many have even theorized that the NL Manager of the Year award would come down to Manuel and Arizona's Bob Melvin, with Manuel getting the edge from most.

Given these factors, even if the Phils wanted to get rid of Manuel, it would be a dicey move to do so. Only one manager has been relieved of his duties after winning his division and the MoY award, and that was Davey Johnson, who was let go because of friction with Baltimore's owner Pete Angelos. The Phils reportedly didn't want to give Manuel more than a year since Gillick's contract ends next year and he plans on retiring.

Now he has a two-year deal, and the Phils have displayed a reluctance to terminate a managerial contract early. Which may mean that Manuel will be around until the next GM's term begins even though his contract is for a fraction of what, say, Adam Eaton is making.

The option of year three just keeps the Phils' options open, which is how they approach every decision. So now that Manuel's contract is settled, they can start looking at free agents like J.C. Romero, Aaron Roward, and Kyle Lohse. Meanwhile rumors swirl that both assistant GMs—heir apparent Ruben "No Comment" Amaro Jr. and once golden boy Mike Arbuckle—are being considered to succeed Walt Jocketty in St. Louis.

Meanwhile, the world awaits Joe Torre's dismissal/resignation. The Yankees were plagued by insects in game two, bad umpiring in game four, and poor hitting throughout. First, they helped drive starter Chien-Ming Wang from the game erroneously calling a foul bunt attempt a hit batsman to load the bases in the second. The failed to call on double windup by Paul Byrd saying time had been called. They missed a catcher's interference call with Hideki Matsui at the plate. There was a miscall at first in the sixth as well: Grady Sizemore hit a chopper to first and first base ump Gerry Davis said pitcher Mike Mussina came down on the bag late after receiving the toss. The naked eye and many replays clearly showed it was a bad call.

Even if the ball had hit Shoppach, he was attempting to bunt at he time and according to the rules it is a strike:

The batter becomes a runner and is entitled to first base without liability to be put out (provided he advances to and touches first base) when…
(b) He is touched by a pitched ball which he is not attempting to hit unless (1) The ball is in the strike zone when it touches the batter, or (2) The batter makes no attempt to avoid being touched by the ball; If the ball is in the strike zone when it touches the batter, it shall be called a strike, whether or not the batter tries to avoid the ball. If the ball is outside the strike zone when it touches the batter, it shall be called a ball if he makes no attempt to avoid being touched.
APPROVED RULING: When the batter is touched by a pitched ball which does not entitle him to first base, the ball is dead and no runner may advance.

From 6.08(b), given he was attempting to bunt, it is a strike. It is doubly a strike from 6.08(b)(1) since it was in the strike zone. You could even argue 6.08(b)(2) could be invoked since the batter flinched at the last minute after offering at the pitch though that's a judgment call.

Basically, you can't throw your body in front of the ball while batting and then expect to be granted first base when a hittable ball hits you, except if Fieldin Culbreth and his ever shifting strike zone is behind the plate.

So now we are left with a TBS nightmare in the NLCS—two expansion teams from the middle of nowhere that no one really cares much about— and a young Cleveland ballclub facing what will be a heavily favored Red Sox team. Given that I got one right in the first round, I am ready to spread my stench all over the LCS. I'll say Red Sox in six and Rockies in six, with the Sox taking the World Series crown in seven.

2007-10-10 10:22:22
1.   underdog
The middle of nowhere...? That no one cares about? Spoken like a true bitter east coast baseball fan!

As a Dodger fan, I'm bitter, too, but I'm still looking forward to this series, some good stories, lots of good young players, and it's not the same old, same old teams for once. So there!

2007-10-10 10:51:18
2.   Linkmeister
Wasn't it George H.W. Bush who said "Message: I care" ??

I hate to quote the guy, but me too.

2007-10-10 12:58:42
3.   rbj
Uh, the bad umping was in game four, not three.
Plus there should have been time called in game 2 with all the midges.
2007-10-10 18:48:29
4.   Hugh Jorgan
That middle of nowhere line is a bit rough. I think most fans who's team has been eliminated has adopted the Rockies as their team, and I believe the snakes have advanced to the NLCS a couple of times more than your Phils in the last 10 years. Both the snakes and Rockies are proving fun to watch right now and any true fan will appreciate what it has taken them to get this far. BTW, much to your chagrin, I'm a BoSox fan.
2007-10-10 21:46:19
5.   Mike Carminati
Sheez, be a little hyperbolic, and you get your head torn off around here. Really, if there has been an overwhelming groundswell of support for these teams, it hasn't leaked into the northeast. Mostly, I hear people complaining that the games will be on too late. I'm usually ready for fresh meat getting to the Series, but not when it comes peppered with Augie Ojedas. And I know the D-Backs are the number one seed, but I remain unconvinced.

Oh and 4 , what does advancing to the NLCS have to do with anything? We have been playing organized baseball in Philly since 1854, second only to NYC. Ten years ago, the Phoenix fans were watching the local Firebirds feed talent to the Giants in crowds under 10k per game. That's no knock on them, but just because the two cities have the same number of World Series crowns doesn't mean that the game or their team has nearly the same kind of resonance for them as it does to someone who has been a life-long fan of his/her team. In terms of baseball history, these two teams are in the middle of nowhere. It doesn't mean that it won't necessarily be a good series or that there aren't good players on these teams. It just means that the subtext is not as intiguing outside of the region.

And by the way, I picked your Sox to win it all, you may have noticed, much to my chagrin.

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