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Manuel wins one for the common man

Manuel wins one for the common man
PHILADELPHIA - A couple years ago when baseball's general managers were gathered for their annual meeting at a posh resort in Naples, Fla., a group of writers slipped out for a quick bite to eat at the nearby Steak 'N' Shake.

When they walked in the front door, they were greeted by Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel, who seemed a lot more comfortable with his burger and fries than trying to figure out which fork to use on which part of his meal served on china in some dimly lit room at the resort.

Phantastic Phils

It was all better, no worse, for Lidge in Philadelphia, where he ran off 48 consecutive successful saves, capped off by the final three outs against the Rays on Wednesday night. That's all 41 chances he had in the regular season, and all seven in the postseason, including Games 1 and 5 against the Rays.

Not bad for a guy whose situation was so precarious in Houston that when he blew his first save opportunity for the Astros in 2007 he was jerked out of the closer role in what became a season of in-and-out. And it pretty much had been that way ever since the 2005 postseason, when instead of focusing on what he had done to help the Astros advance to the World Series for the first time in his history, the attention was on the home runs he gave up to Albert Pujols in the NLCS and Scott Podsednik of the White Sox in the World Series.

"You hear people talk about a change of scenery," said Lidge, "Now I know what they mean. I have a (manager and coaching) staff that believe in me and are not worried about if I blow one (save). They let me know right away I'd be pitching the ninth, and if I fell down I'd have to get up and go back out there. That's all you can ask for."

And it started with Manuel, whose playing career included 1,060 games in the minors, 366 big-league at-bats and six years in Japan, and whose managerial career began with nine years in the minor leagues.

He did play in two ALCS with the Twins, pinch-hitting once each against Baltimore in 1969 and 1970. And he did manage two league championship teams in the minors -- at Colorado Springs in 1992 and Charlotte in 1993.

Now he has a World Series championship on his resume, too.

And even Manuel admits that is special.

"It means everything to me," he said. "You see people and they got a (world championship) ring on and everybody wants to see that ring. It's a symbol that you are a winner.

"Dallas Green is a good example of that. If you ask him, the biggest thing he ever did in baseball he would say, 'People calling me a winner.' Why? Because he got a ring where he managed and won a World Series (for the Phillies in 1980). In baseball, when someone asked me what I want to be known as, I want to be known as a winner."

Mission accomplished.

Baseball's common man has reached the level of the elite. He's a champion.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: October 30, 2008

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