When the (2005) Phillies unfurled the soiled bedsheet of a 10-14 April, we gleefully piled on the big, old, homespun skipper. His nicknames included Charlie of Mayberry and my waspish gift to insult, Elmer BeFuddled.
Manuel’s second April produced yet another 10-14. It was deja vu and Elmer BeFuddled all over again. Depending on your generation, Manuel’s IQ seemed pegged somewhere between Ed Norton, Ralph Kramden’s sewer-worker pal in “The Honeymooners” (still the best 30 minutes on TV), and Paulie Walnuts, a dim-bulb, turbo-malaprop mob captain with a heart of ice in “The Sopranos.” E-mails came every day asking if I thought Manuel would be cashiered by (pick one) Mother’s Day, Memorial Day,e 13-of-14 surge that began April 30 has carried the Phillies to within a game of the first-place Mets. The hottest run of the 2006 major league season was jump-started by human crash-test dummy Aaron Rowand. His game-saving, face-altering, fan-grabbing catch at the end of a Mays-robs-Wertz run, became instant legend, an event to build dreams upon.
Suddenly, Charlie Manuel has gone from Mayberry to Mensa. If you rated the guy’s IQ at around the 100 range during those awful Aprils, you’ve got to think it went up about five points a win during the nine-game winning streak. That’s 145 – an IQ of 135 to 144 indicates a highly gifted intellectual. OK, deduct five points for the messy Wednesday loss to the Mets. But the Phils have won four straight since then, including lights-out starting pitching by wunderkind King Cole Hamels, Jon Lieber and Brett Myers, and the fortuitous slugging of Ryan Howard. Howard went directly from the ER to baseball history. Of the four hitters in baseball history who have now hit a pinch homer plus a second homer, he was the only one recovering from food poisoning.
So let’s tack 20 more points on Charlie’s IQ, which computes to 160. People with IQs between 155 and 164 fall into the “Genius Nobel Prize winners” category. A sweep in Milwaukee would take Manuel to 175-high genius.