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Wednesday, October 29, 2003

A FIRE INSIDE: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF LAWRENCE BOWA

AWPA One man come in the name of love,
One man come and go.
One come here to justify,
One man to overthrow,
In the name of love,
What more in the name of love.

"Pride" by U2


Jerry Manuel. High expectations. A decent season with an above .500 record but no playoff spot. Fired!

Grady Little. High expectations. A win in the ALDS and one game away from the World Series. Fired!

Larry Bowa. High expectations. A decent season with an above .500 record but no playoff spot. A career winning percentage of .481. Never taken a club to the post-season. Fi... errr.... what?

That's right Larry Bowa is still employed. How and why this is was perplexing to say the least. In a season in which they were supposed to win the NL East, the second season in a row they were supposed to contend, the Phillies collapsed down the stretch as their clubhouse was left in a state of acrimony and alienation. Bowa was successful in screwing up Pat Burrell and forcing them to trade away baseball's best 3rd baseman Scott Rolen the year prior. It's highly unlikely that the team's ace Kevin Millwood will re-sign with the team this off-season largely because of Bowa. If ever a situation cried out for a managerial change this was it. I waited for the inevitable announcement at the end of the season, hoping to see Larry hold his own press conference where he would complain that only if the Phillies had given him ten players with the "fire and guts" of Bo Hart he would have been able to win.

But that announcement never came. And it's not going to come. Not until at least mid-way through next season. Phil Sheridan spells out why Bowa's reign of incompetence has been allowed to continue: Ed Wade.

If a decent comparison can be made between Larry Bowa and George W. Bush (neither particularly bright, both doing a bad job, prone to gun-ho rants and tough talk, alienating members of staff, slipping approval ratings, etc...), then Ed Wade is Dick Chaney.

Ed's the man pulling the strings here and Bowa is just his puppet. He's fired a good chunk of the coaching staff but he's kept Larry around. Why?

Well, if Wade did fire Bowa at the end of this season and installed a new manager he would be taking a gamble that the Phillies would be successful (which they probably would) under this new manager. Alas, Ed Wade is not a gambling man and he's not as concerned with winning as with job security.

If the Phillies do pull up lame this season then you can expect Ed Wade to let Mr. Bowa take the heat all the way to the unemployment line. If the Phillies stumbled with a new manager then Edward would be one facing the firing squad. By keeping Larry Bowa, Ed Wade has bought himself some time and perhaps a new contract.

I think its pretty shameful, and even if you hate George Steinbrenner you have to at least appreciate that none of this nonsense would happen under his ownership. No mere GM would be able to call his own shots at the expense of the team. Steinbrenner would have canned both Wade and Bowa's collective butt cheeks years ago.

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