"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice


Leaders must be able to bring things clearly into focus. They need to look beyond themselves and put others first. They must travel long roads and be forced to change their opinions and sometimes even change sides. And they always need to be compassionate and courageous and can never be afraid to take a stand.

It’s a tough job. Not many people want it and even fewer can do it. Maybe that’s why everyone is always looking for the next great leader.

I’ve listened to a lot of talk about past leaders and present leaders and future leaders and I keep coming back to the way Charlie Manuel led the Philadelphia Phillies to the World Series title.

Manuel gave everyone a good look at what it means to be leader during the National League Championship Series when he told reporters:

“If I had never gone and played baseball in Japan (where he hit 48 homers for the Kintetsu Buffaloes in 1980), I don’t think I would have been a coach or manager. What I learned was there’s a lot of different people in the world, and there’s more people in the world than Charlie Manuel. And I mean that I learned to respect things more. I learned to care about more things.”

That helped mold Manuel into the best kind of leader: One who understands that everyone is different, but we are all the same.

It’s a simple lesson with a confusing past and an uncertain future. Figuring it out helped make Manuel a better person, a great leader and eventually a champion.


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1 Evil Empire   ~  Nov 9, 2008 1:36 pm

Todd, good stuff as always. No kidding, but back in June when Manuel benched Jimmy Rollins for dogging it and Rollins reacted with complete remorse, I emailed my friends the next day and told them the Phillies were going to win the World Series.

Overall pitching and hitting stats dictate who's going to be the last team standing (or at least the last 8 teams standing. Just about anything can happen in the postseason (see e.g., the 2006 Cardinals). With a 103 OPS+ and 115 ERA+ the Phillies were definitely one of the teams that had a statistical claim on winning the ultimate prize. I've often thought that sometimes a team that's one of those teams that "could" win it all gets an extra kick in the pants and it makes all the difference. And that's what I thought about the June 5 benching of Jimmy Rollins.

But, when I looked deeper, here's what I found:

Phillies record before Rollins benching 36-26 (.580)
Phillies record after Rollins benching 56-44 (.560)

So now I'm a bit more confused. Perhaps I need to look at who their opponents were in the two time frames. Or, perhaps it could be that if Rollins had not been benched they might have gone 50-50 after June 5.

One thing I didn't realize until after I started looking was that Rollins was also benched on July 24 for being late to the park. The Phils were 56-49 (.533 on that date, which is a pretty fair downward trend from Rollins's first benching on June 5). But after July 25, they finished 36-21(a more robust .632). So it's possible that the statistical evidence of the intangible (heresy around these parts) occurred after July 24.

But after looking at all of this, I don't think that the Phillies victory in the world series can anymore be attributed to Rollins's benchings as it might be to a change in the clubhouse post-game menu or better fabric softener in their uniforms. I just don't think anyone can know. And when I sent my friends that email in June, I was just making a lucky guess based on no more than a headline. I was pissing in the wind.

2 Todd Drew   ~  Nov 9, 2008 2:39 pm

Evil Empire,
You made a good call on the Phillies and shouldn’t pull back from it now. Luck, post-game menus and better fabric softener used on the uniforms are all part of baseball.

3 Joe L.   ~  Nov 9, 2008 4:35 pm

It must be luck, meals, fabric softener as well as a deep-thinking manager. Thanks for making me think on a Sunday. I mean Thank You for making me think today. I hope other leaders are reading.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver