Back In Philly, “Cholly” Is A Hit

Charlie Manuel

“Cholly” Manuel is back home in Philly and he’s making a big and immediate difference.

Charlie, aka “Cholly”  Manuel, will be beloved in Philly forever because he won us a World Series as manager of the Phillies in 2008 and led the team to five consecutive postseason appearances from 2007-11. In nine seasons as Phils’ skipper, he went 780-636, a .551 winning percentage, accumulating move victories than any manager in team history. And before he left town Cholly said “I’ll be Back!” Well not quite, but it makes for a good story.

Now Cholly is baaaaaack! He’s back as the Phillies hitting coach, replacing  John Mallee. Here’s what Ethan Witte and John Stolnis from SB Nation, a Philadelphia Phillies community, had to say about it all:

“That John Mallee has been replaced isn’t too much of a shock. Something had to be done as there was such a malaise surrounding the team, especially the hitters. The fact that Charlie Manuel is tasked with taking the reigns is the shocker. We’ve all known how much Cholly loves hitting. That the team knows this and recognizes not only his expertise, but realizes that something had to be done is absolutely huge. However, the questions this decision raises are fascinating.

Manuel is the most successful manager in franchise history and is a beloved figure in the city. How will he work with the current embattled manager, Gabe Kapler? Will Kapler feel threatened? Will Manuel get credit for turning the season around if the offense improves and the team starts winning? Is it smart for the Phils to turn to a more old-school baseball figure in an era when most teams are hiring young baseball minds?”

These are all good questions. The jury still might be out but the early election returns are in: in the Phillies last 4 games they’ve scored 30 runs, and they scored 11 against they’re old teammate, Cole Hammels. Not too shabby.

Yes, Cholly is back, and what a comeback. And talk about a turnaround! 

So, even at the tender old age of 75, Cholly is making a difference. And that means that you and I, at whatever younger age we are than Cholly, can make a difference too.

Note to Chase Utley: “Don’t Break A Leg”

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Chase Utley may be a Dodger, but he’s forever loved in Philly as he’s a lifelong member of the Philadelphia Phillies. And when he was traded to the Dodgers, we all wished him well and wanted him to “break a leg.”  But we didn’t REALLY want him  break a leg. Not really. 

Unfortunately, Utley is now in the news and in the middle of a mess for not a good reason. Now Utley finds himself in the middle of baseball’s hottest controversy after his hard takeout slide broke New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada’s right leg on Saturday night. Major League Baseball suspended Utley for two playoff games, and his agent said he will appeal. The Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers are tied at 1-all in the best-of-five NL Division Series. Game 3 is scheduled for Monday night at Citi Field, and it’s possible Utley would’ve been in the starting lineup against ace Matt Harvey.

”A two-game suspension for a legal baseball play is outrageous and completely unacceptable. Chase did what all players are taught to do in this situation – break up the double play,” agent Joel Wolfe said in a statement. The disputed play angered Tejada’s teammates and drew the wrath of Mets fans. The slide has led to a polarizing debate about whether such slides are dirty or merely aggressive baseball.

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 10: Ruben Tejada #11 of the New York Mets is hit by a slide by Chase Utley #26 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the seventh inning in an attempt to turn a double play in game two of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 10: Ruben Tejada #11 of the New York Mets is hit by a slide by Chase Utley #26 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the seventh inning in an attempt to turn a double play in game two of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

The 36-year-old Utley made his big league debut in 2003 and is revered by Phillies fans for his hustle. Utley is fiery and feisty, gutsy and plucky, and He epitomized a gritty city that loves hard-nosed players. He might be the most popular player in Philadelphia sports history. And that’s not small statement. Philly is a sports town notorious for its toughness and never, ever booed Utley, no matter how badly he slumped.

”Chase is an iconic, generational player,” former general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. said after the rebuilding Phillies traded Utley to the Dodgers in August.  Utley’s style is more appreciated as a teammate than an opponent. He’s an intense guy who never smiled on the field, but he displayed rare emotion when he thanked fans after he was traded to Los Angeles.

Utley was former manager Charlie Manuel’s favorite player, in large part because his work ethic rubbed off on younger teammates.

Utley helped lead the Phillies to five straight NL East titles, two NL pennants and one World Series championship between 2007-11. He hit 243 home runs for Philadelphia, including 10 in the postseason and five in the 2009 World Series against the Yankees.

So the problem is this: was Utley’s slide a dirty, diabolical, dastardly deed?  That Utley is not a dirty player is not the issue. The fact is, some want to make Utley a scapegoat and a scoundrel, a villain and a felon, a rogue and a rascal because he broke another player’s leg.  So that’s too bad, because breaking someone’s leg is not good. 

There are times when each and every one of us will be misjudged and mistaken, misquoted and misrepresented. And that’s just life.