He would like to end those jokes on Tuesday with an NL victory in the All-Star Game at Angel Stadium.
"I like to win every day," Manuel said. "To win the All-Star Game, it would be absolutely great. I want to win for the National League. Whether we're the representation for the National League in the World Series or not, I still would like to put that in line for our league.
"I think home-field advantage definitely is important. Yeah, I'd love to win it. I love to win every day."
Manuel spent almost the entire flight from Philadelphia to Anaheim on Sunday making out his lineup. He hopes this lineup helps the NL win its first All-Star Game since 1996.
Honorary NL president Bill Giles, who knows Manuel well as the Phillies' chairman, put a little pressure on Manuel before he announced Colorado Rockies right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez as his starting pitcher and before he unveiled his lineup. Giles said that because this is Manuel's second consecutive time managing the NL, it's his job to end that "stupid American League jinx."
"Charlie, your job's on the line," Giles joked.
Jimenez will help; he is a remarkable 15-1 with a 2.20 ERA. Manuel said he also considered Florida Marlins right-hander Josh Johnson, who is 9-3 with a 1.70 ERA, but Manuel said Jimenez has been a top pitcher in the NL for years and deserved the honor.
"He's what I call a horse," Manuel said.
Manuel had plenty of choices as his designated hitter, but he chose Howard. Manuel is certainly familiar with Howard, who was the 2006 NL MVP and 2005 NL Rookie of the Year under Manuel's watch in Philadelphia. But Howard is also tied for the NL lead with 65 RBIs and seventh in the league with 17 home runs.
"I chose Ryan because I thought he fit," Manuel said of Howard. "We want to jump out of the gate. At the same time we have some pieces on our roster that we'll get into some serious baseball that last four innings of the game."
Manuel chose Ethier as his center fielder, despite the fact Ethier has never played center field. But Manuel pointed out that he had little choice. Manuel also has Braun, a left fielder, and Hart, a right fielder, in his starting lineup, leaving him without a true center fielder.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.