The Philadelphia Phillies interviewed a number of candidates, including Jim Leyland and Charlie Manuel, during their managerial search after the 2004 baseball season ended. Ever since then some fans (and media members) believe that former Phillies' general manager Ed Wade made the wrong choice. Some other fans (and other media members) believe that the right choice was made, or that this point was rendered moot long ago.
Now that baseball's spotlight is shining on Leyland's Tigers and the San Francisco Giants in the World Series, let's revisit this long-standing debate.
Depending upon competitiveness levels, an appreciation for baseball (or any sport) can be shared with other people. I mentioned that personality point because some individuals have seemingly never moved beyond the emotional stages of their teenage years.
These poor souls are the ones who adamantly believe that the Phillies made the wrong choice in hiring Manuel to manage the Phillies. Adamant is the key word in that last sentence, because I thought that Leyland seemed like the better managerial choice at the time. However, I was willing to give Manuel a chance when he was hired.
Pat Gillick took over for Wade in November 2005, kept Manuel in place and the Phillies later went on to defeat the Tampa Bay Rays and win the 2008 World Series. Those years were enough to convince me that the initial decision to hire Manuel was right. As to whether he should have been replaced at some point after 2008 appears to be a fair question, but it's also a different subject.
There are still some people who aren't able to release the bit that they chomped on in the fall of 2004. They often disregard Gillick's approval of Manuel, cite what has happened to the Phillies since the 2008 World Series was won and offer random conjecture about what they "know" would have taken place in an alternate diamond universe when trotting out their long Leyland thesis.
In my opinion, Leyland's full managerial career (21 combined years) trumps Manuel's complete dugout tenure (11 combined years) with the Cleveland Indians and the Phillies. But, that wasn't and isn't the point.
Leyland was subsequently hired by the Tigers to begin the 2006 season. So, the following comparison places his seven Tigers' seasons against Manuel's eight Phillies' years.
From 2005-2012, the Phillies' regular season winning percentage was .561. During that time they won five division titles (2007-2011), two National League pennants (2008, 2009) and one World Series' championship (2008).
From 2006-2012, the Tigers regular season winning percentage was .535. During that time they won two division titles (2011, 2012) and two American League pennants (2006 and 2012). The 2012 World Series has not yet been determined as of the date of this article.
Responding to emotion with logic
The question regarding whether Leyland should have been hired to manage the Phillies instead of Manuel could be answered with a stream of emotionally charged, blue language-laiden statements by some perpetually red-faced fans.
It could also be rationally stated that each man is deserving of the success that he has earned through the years.
Sean O'Brien is based in the Philadelphia region. He began his professional career in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons' front office (the Philadelphia Phillies former Triple-A affiliate), later worked as a freelance sports writer and is currently a Featured Contributor in Sports for the Yahoo Contributor Network! You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and also read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
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