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Hall of Fame case for Charlie Manuel

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On Monday, December 9, the Today’s Game committee of the Baseball Hall of Fame, which covers the years 1988-2018 — will vote on candidates for the 2019 induction class. Between now and then we will take a look at the ten candidates, one-by-one, to assess their Hall worthiness.

Our final nominee: Charlie Manuel 

The case for his induction:

He won a World Series, two pennants and had a fantastic .537 winning percentage in 12 seasons as a big league manager. If you don’t count his two partial seasons in which he was dismissed in mid-stream — 2002 with the Indians and 2013 with the Phillies — he never had a losing season. Despite all of that success, there’s a good argument that he was underrated, with his employers not giving him full credit for his teams’ success and giving him too much blame for his teams’ failures. Why else would he be fired in mid-season when coming off of very good previous year in Cleveland? In Philly he was let go a year and a half after a 102-win season, as his roster was aging and beginning to be plagued with injuries. I’m not saying it was a crazy injustice that he was fired in those cases, but a lot of managers get more rope than Cholly ever got.

 

The case against his induction:

His 1,000 career wins as a manager is a nice round number, but it’s also a very low number compared to almost every Hall of Fame manager. Indeed, every single Hall of Fame manager below Manuel on the win list made it there because of either their playing exploits (Walter Johnson, Tris Speaker, etc.) or for other accomplishments (Branch Rickey, Charlie Comiskey). To find a pure Hall of Fame manager, as opposed to a guy who made it based on playing and managing, you have to go nearly 300 wins above Manuel to Whitey Herzog. Now, to be clear, this isn’t Manuel’s fault — he didn’t get a chance to manage in the bigs until he was 56 years-old, which is a pretty darn late start — but absent cases involving baseball’s color line, you can’t credit a Hall of Fame candidate for stuff he didn’t do in the bigs.

Also working against Manuel, perversely, is just how talented his teams were in Cleveland and Philly. Multiple Hall of Famers or future Hall of Famers played for Manuel and many, many more All-Stars did too. Alomar. Thome. Utley. Halladay. Manny Ramirez, Kenny Lofton, CC Sabathia, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels. You get the idea. We tend to think more of managers who did more with less. Manuel did a lot — remember, he won a World Series and two pennants — but he did that with the sort of talent that most managers would kill to have. Could someone else have done what he did with that talent? Could someone else have done more? I don’t know, but they’re fair questions to ask when assessing Manuel’s bonafides. They’re also the questions those owners and general managers who did not give Cholly all that much rope were probably asking themselves. I don’t think it’s unfair to say that a lot of managers would’ve won the games Manuel won with the kind of talent he had.

Would I vote for him?

I really liked Manuel as a manager. I loved his temperament and think he made the right moves more than he made bad moves. There was rarely a lot of drama on Manuel-led teams, even with some big personalities on the roster. That’s a really important trait for a manager, even if it’s hard to measure. I also think that back in 2013, when he was canned by Philly, it might’ve been worth it for some other team to give him the reins over whatever young, pretty and inexperienced former catcher or whatever they actually hired. That said, I have a hard time giving a Hall of Fame plaque to a guy with only 10 full seasons in the dugout. A great resume for what it is, but not a lengthy enough resume for my tastes.

Will the Committee vote for him? 

I kind of doubt it, for much the same reason that would keep me from voting for him. This is especially true when Lou Piniella, whose resume is way stronger, is on the ballot. The Veterans Committee, in all of its forms, tends to favor managers and executives over players, so it wouldn’t totally shock me if he got the nod, but I wouldn’t bet a ton of money on it.

Gomez HR sinks Nats after Martinez ejection, Mets sweep

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NEW YORK (AP) Turns out, the only thing Mets manager Mickey Callaway lost this week was his voice.

Days after New York’s front office declared support for its criticized, second-year skipper, Callaway’s players rallied for another startling victory Thursday and a four-game sweep of the division-rival Nationals.

Carlos Gomez slipped out of his shoe during an early dash, then hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in the eighth inning that helped the Mets overcome a comeback that started after Washington manager Dave Martinez’s heated ejection for a 6-4 victory.

Gomez bolted around the bases, smacking himself in the helmet and letting out a few joyous shouts after his two-out shot against Wander Suero (1-4). Players jumped out of the dugout and danced on the warning track while he rounded the bases, greeting him with flying handshakes and hugs.

Callaway was already hoarse Thursday morning when he met with reporters. After Gomez’s stunner, he could hardly get his pipes working.

“Sorry for the voice,” he said. “I’ve been screaming and yelling (through) these crazy games.”

Gomez delivered his first homer of the season in his seventh game. The 13-year major league veteran opened the year with Triple-A Syracuse, hoping to extend his playing days at Citi Field after breaking into the majors with the Mets as a 21-year-old in 2007.

“I’m blessed,” Gomez said. “Came back here in this situation and play the way that we’re playing right now with a lot of energy, you know, I’m enjoying every single time. You guys can notice when I’m in the dugout or playing defense like a little kid. I’m enjoying every single moment.”

It was the third straight game New York beat Washington in its final turn at-bat.

The Nationals seemed as if they’d snapped from their funk after Martinez’s ejection in the eighth. Plate umpire Bruce Dreckman rang up Washington’s Howie Kendrick for a strikeout as he tried to check his swing leading off, then tossed the veteran infielder. Martinez charged from the dugout, spiked his hat and kicked dirt on home plate while barking relentlessly at Dreckman.

“I just didn’t think he swung,” Martinez said. “We just got into it. All I did was tell him to ask for help. That’s why the first base umpire is there. He didn’t like it.”

Juan Soto then walked against Robert Gsellman (1-0), Victor Robles singled, and Yan Gomes brought in Soto with a double. Gerardo Parra followed with a pinch-hit, two-run single for a 4-3 Washington lead.

The Nationals have lost five straight and six of seven. Washington dropped to 19-31, a record better than only the Miami Marlins, Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City Royals.

Hardly the kind of start expected from an NL playoff hopeful.

“You can’t put a blame on one thing,” Martinez said when asked where culpability fell. “You really can’t. This is a team thing.”

The Mets swept the Nationals/Expos franchise over four games for the first time since July 1-4, 1991. It was the first four-game home sweep by New York in the series since May 15-18, 1972.

New York is 18-13 against the NL East and 24-25 overall. The Mets enter a three-game series against Detroit hoping to climb over .500 for the first time since May 2.

“Now we’re winning ballgames, there’s definitely a different air because of that,” Callaway said. “But these guys have not quit one time. They’re tremendous. That’s an unbelievable comeback right there.”

Edwin Diaz retired the side in order in the ninth for his 12th save.

Mets starter Steven Matz allowed 10 hits over six innings of one-run ball. Washington starter Stephen Strasburg allowed two runs and five hits over seven innings.

Starting with an unusual 12:10 p.m. first pitch, both teams looked short on caffeine. New York had two errors, Washington had one and both teams had players thrown out on the bases.

SHOE FLY DON’T BOTHER

Gomez stole second in the fifth inning and took third on catcher Gomes’ throwing error, and his left shoe flew off in the process. Gomez never broke stride and scored two batters later on Juan Lagares‘ sacrifice fly for a 1-0 lead.

IT’LL BE ALL RIGHT

New York placed infielders Robinson Cano (left quad strain) and Jeff McNeil (tight left hamstring) on the injured list prior to the game, leaving the team without two regular position players. The Mets went with an all right-handed lineup against a right-handed starting pitcher for the second time in franchise history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Nationals: 1B Ryan Zimmerman (plantar fasciitis in right foot) has experienced some pain running in recent days and will back off. He was still expected to hit in a batting cage Thursday.

Mets: Luis Guillorme and Ryan O’Rourke were recalled from Triple-A Syracuse. … New York claimed former Phillies OF Aaron Altherr off waivers from San Francisco and designated RHP Tim Peterson for assignment.

UP NEXT

Nationals: Open a four-game home series against Miami with RHP Kyle McGowin (0-0, 6.00) set to make his second career start. RHP Pablo Lopez (3-5, 5.06) is up for the Marlins.

Mets: RHP Noah Syndergaard (3-4, 4.50) starts the opener of a three-game home series against Detroit, opposing LHP Gregory Soto (0-2, 10.80).

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