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Posted at 07:39 PM ET, 04/18/2007

Charlie Manuel Explains All

So I've been looking for a new team to blanket with Bog coverage once the Wizards' season ends, and I think I found me my team. The Phillies, naturally.

You'll recall that on Tuesday night, Charlie Manuel melted down when confronted by a Philly radio personality, and had to be restrained. As the Philly Daily News put it:

Manuel, on his way through the clubhouse, resumed hollering at the radio personality when they locked eyes. A Phillies coach and a media relations representative ushered Manuel, spewing profanity, out the back of the clubhouse.

Video here. You can read about it all over the Internets, at FanHaus or The 700 Level, for example. Anyhow, I figured I needed to be in the dugout for Manuel's pre-game press gaggle today, just in case.

So a bit before 4 today, Manuel emerges with a Virginia Tech cap perched high on his head, and slowly walks to the dugout, followed by about two dozen media types. We crowd 'round. We wait for someone to ask the first, inevitable question about the confrontation. The first question is asked: "Charlie, anything happen last night, any regrets at all?"

The first answer is given: "No, what happened last night happened, and I just want to move on. I mean, that's over. I want to move on. I've got to concentrate on our team and winning ballgames. Actually, that has nothing to do with our team. As I look at it, that has nothing to do with our team and it has nothing to do with us winning or losing games. Myeh. You know."

Right. Sure. We know. So here's where we stand: two votes for moving on, both from Manuel. But we're trained media professionals. We don't want to move on. Luckily, two Philly-area TV personalities will help us not move on, by asking 11 consecutive questions about last night. Believe me, I was lapping this up. Over the course of Manuel's 11 answers, he said the following things:

"I don't want to hash on it," "I don't want to go over anything," "Let's move on," "I just want to move on," "I want to just concentrate on our team," "I'll say this and then I don't want to say nothin' else about it," and "I don't want to talk no more about it." He followed that last one with this: "I know I'm talkin', but I don't want to say nothin' else about it," which might have been a reasonable request, although it was one that he promptly declined. I've never seen someone talk so much about something he wasn't going to talk about. And luckily, we finally got to the good stuff by the end. For example:

"The only way I know to tell you guys how tough I am is you gotta see it, or witness it, or feel it, or whatever," he said.

And this:

"I've got to be bigger than that," he said. "I've got to be a bigger man than that. Like, I've got to be able to handle something like that. And as a professional, that's probably the only thing that I would probably regret about last night."

And also this:

"When I first started as a manager in this game I used to grab guys, I'd slam them on the wall," he said. "Really. I mean, that was no problem. I had no problem doing that. And you know, like, I'm older now and things like that, I'm 63 years old, but at the same time, you know, like, I've still got that same passion, I've still got that same fire....People don't know me and they don't take the time to know me. They see me around the ballpark and they kind of look at, 'Well, there's Goodtime Charlie,' or you know, like, 'Take-it-Easy Charlie,' 'Laidback Charlie,' 'Uncle Charlie,' 'Grand-pa Charlie,' whatever."

Right. Actually, now I was filled with questions. What was the difference, for example, between "Uncle Charlie" and "Grand-pa Charlie?" But a PR guy finally convinced us to move on, and to ask questions about the actual game.

"That was a lot of answers for a question that you weren't gonna answer," I pointed out.

"I didn't want answer 'em, I didn't want to talk, but at the same time, that's ok," he said.

Then there were baseball questions. Nine baseball questions. Quiet banter. Finally, out of the blue, Manuel drops this: He's putting his No. 1 starter, Brett Myers, into the bullpen. There was five seconds of silence. Literally. I timed it later. Then laughter. Much laughter. The beat writers attempted to convince Manuel that he was joking. They stared at each other. Literally, jaws were dropped. One writer offered to bet Manuel $100 that he was kidding. Finally, they realized he was serious, and they launched into the pitching staff inquisition. The two Philly-area TV guys were long gone by this point. We had gone from Manule talking about something he wasn't going to talk about, to idle baseball chatter, to bombshell news.

It was all too bizarre, and the weirdness continued. When we eventually tracked down Myers, someone asked if he'd be able to throw harder now that he was working in shorter bursts.

"Let me let you direct that question to my arm," Myers said, putting his arm in the writer's face.

I mean, this team was born for bloggers. I was waiting for a utility infielder to talk about having one of his children play in the bidet, ala Gilbert Arenas, or for some outfielder to start yelling that he couldn't feel his face, ala DeShawn Stevenson.

Anyhow, as a postscript, I did finally manage to ask Manuel what was the difference between "Uncle Charlie" and "Grand-pa Charlie."

"Whatever you want it to be," he said, of course.

By  |  07:39 PM ET, 04/18/2007

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