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Phils' Manuel can relate to Randolph

Phils' Manuel can relate to Randolph

PHILADELPHIA -- In a way, Willie Randolph's dismissal as Mets manager can be traced to Sept. 30, 2007.

On that day, the Phillies danced on the Citizens Bank Park grass in celebration of their first National League East title in 14 years. The Mets, meanwhile, were left to ponder a historic collapse that made it possible.

Less than three months into a new season of renewed expectations, the Mets have sputtered, and early Tuesday morning, Randolph was relieved of his job as a result.

Do the Phillies feel responsible?

"Absolutely not," manager Charlie Manuel said. "If I had my way, we would've beaten them by 20 games. This is a good chair I'm sitting in. You can learn a whole lot. If I can beat you by 50 games, I'll do it. Believe me."

As a manager who endured his share of second-guessing in a high-profile city, Manuel can relate. On July 9, 2006, while discussing his team's lackluster play, he said of his status then perceived as tenuous:

"If you want to know the truth, you come to the ballpark and people look at you like you've got cancer," he said. "Heck, they act like they don't know what to say to you."

Randolph might have felt the same way the past three weeks, when talks of his imminent dismissal picked up steam.

"I can feel for anybody that gets let go," Manuel said. "There's not a whole lot I can do about it. I still have a lot of respect for him. There's an old saying, 'You don't fire 25 players.' I don't know if I agree with that, but that's kind of how it goes. I just come to the ballpark every day and try to do the best job I can possibly do."

Replacing Randolph with interim skipper Jerry Manuel could spur the Mets. Changing managers helped the Marlins in 2003, when Jack McKeon took over in late May and led Florida to a World Series championship.

"Some kind of change is good," the Phils skipper said. "If you get things going, a team takes off and wins 10 games, I don't know if [the manager change] has anything to do with it or not. I look at this game, if you stay after it, you're going to have ups and downs.

"Even if you're not a real good team, you can win 10, 12 games sometimes in a row. I've seen teams change managers in the middle of the season or at the start of the season and they end up winning. If that helped them, maybe."

In the meantime, the Phillies will try to maintain their lead in the NL East, allowing their manager to avoid those questions next season.

Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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