Saturday, June 27, 2015

Corrales Was a Sweetheart of a Guy

On July 19, 1983, the Phillies fired manager Pat Corrales with his team tied with the Cardinals for first in the NL East.

Just prior to Corrales getting canned, he benched Mike Schmidt. The take on Corrales back then was that he was not a good communicator.

Fast forward a few clicks.

When I arrived at the Phillies Dream Week, I was 50. Being a high school baseball coach years earlier, I threw a ton of batting practice. Throwing batting practice you throw hard and over the plate, or you waste valuable practice time. Kids don't like it (not getting the ball over in batting practice).

At Dream Week, they saw I could throw hard and over the plate and therefore I was drafted in the first round as a pitcher. If you don't believe me ask Wheels. First game I pitched I lost 2-1 and gave up  only 5 or 6 hits. Cheapos, you know what I'm sayin'?

But it left me with a sore arm you wouldn't believe.

Next day, my Dream Week manager, Pat Corrales, the same Pat Corrales fired with the Phillies in '83, and Atlanta's bench coach at the time, asked me in the locker room if he could use me in relief. I said yes, knowing I would have trouble throwing even a soft pitch. He patted me on the butt and said, "Okay, Costy."

Sure enough, in the morning game in the sixth, score tied, Corrales came out of the dugout walking to the mound and pointed at me. I was playing third. He handed me the ball and said, "Costy, let's get out of this."

I was right. I could barely get the ball to the catcher and I got hammered. We lost the game.

That day, and for the next several days, Corrales, who was one of the nicest men I have ever met,  gave me the cold shoulder. Wouldn't even speak to me.

No communication? Okay, sure, a silly Dream Week example. But the managers in my Dream Week were competitive and didn't like to lose to the other managers, even though they were managing "Dreamers."

Fast forward a few more clicks.

Ryne Sandberg resigns.

If today, I could ask Larry Bowa one question and one question only, here is what I'd ask him: "Did Sandberg fill out the lineup card every day, or did Junior? Did Junior lean on Sandberg to play certain players?"

Wait, that's two questions. Lookit, I'm writing the blog, not you.

Other than that, I didn't think Sandberg was a good manager and I felt that he'd eventually get the ax.

Here's why:
  • When he did his post game reports to the press, carried on cable, he was the worst communicator I ever saw; he'd make Charlie look like Abe Lincoln
  • I didn't like the way he moved players around, especially Darrin Ruf, but that goes back to my question to Bowa — was he doing it or was Junior — and I didn't like the way he kept changing the batting order
  • He just didn't look like he knew what he was doing and didn't have the respect of the team, especially an old school player like Utley
  • Granted, he's a Hall of Fame second baseman, no doubt he knows baseball, but knowing it and orchestrating it are different — perhaps that's why many great players don't make good managers
  • Certainly, Sandberg didn't have the horses to compete, but he had some horses; the team should have played better 
Here's the bottom line. If the players don't respect you as a manager, it's over. If the players don't respect you as manager, your team becomes the worst team in baseball. I think Sandberg knew that.

Good for the Phillies? Bad for the Phillies?

Who knows? Probably doesn't matter. But here's what's important in my mind. The infield I've been asking for since the beginning of the season: Franco, Galvis, Hernandez, and Ruf, just took another step closer. Utley went on the DL and Cesar  Hernandez  was given the job.

I like Hernandez, I think the kid can play.

Ruf is now at Lehigh Valley.

We are still waiting for the shoe to drop on trades that may or may not happen by July 31 — and we see what additional young players the team gets. I understand that Howard needs to play to get traded and that Ruf can play every day at triple A.

So let's leave Sandberg on a good note, because he too looked like a very nice man.

I don't like to take stuff from the papers but I'll make an exception. Here is  want Sandberg was quoted as saying by the Inquirer: "In the last three years in Philadelphia, I have met some of the most passionate baseball fans. They love their baseball team, that is something I will never forget."

Seriously, did the wrong man resign, here?


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