Rays manager Joe Maddon is from Hazleton, Pa. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel is from Northfork, W.Va. Not far by glance at a map, but worlds away in demeanor and style.
Maddon is the cerebral, newly anointed genius with Hugo Boss glasses and a taste for a fine glass of wine.
Manuel looks like a baseball man forged of clubhouse food and chew. He could very well be NASCAR driver Sterling Marlin in polyester pants. His only real rule is not to be late, which explains why he has on occasion benched defending National League MVP Jimmy Rollins.
And he takes guff from his players when he thinks it might help the cause. During a mound conference this year in Milwaukee, Manuel was especially curt, in second baseman Chase Utley's humble opinion, prompting him to advise Manuel to "Get the rubber duck out of your a--."
When the Phillies arrived in the Tropicana Field clubhouse Monday for their first World Series workout, they found decorated rubber ducks on their chairs.
"I think it never hurts (to be reminded to stay loose)," Manuel said, "because this is what every baseball player plays for."
"Charlie's a mess," Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard smiled. "It never gets old."
That's not to say Manuel runs a loose ship. He's one of two managers to lead the Phillies to consecutive NL East titles, last year guiding them to the playoffs for the first time since 1993. It's easy to envision his face hardening when riled, but he's also done a good job of taking pressure off his stars, particularly slugger Howard, who has not hit a home run in almost a month.
"We talk about Howard sometime and the fact he's not hitting all of a sudden, and we talk about him not hitting because he's not hitting the homer," said Manuel, one of only five active managers to have won division titles in both leagues (Cleveland, AL Central in 2001).
"When he hits a single or something, it plays a part in the game. His name never gets mentioned. People just look at him as hitting homers, like, 'Hey, he hasn't hit a homer, so he's not hitting.' Not necessarily true. And walks, (Pat) Burrell gets 100 walks a year, and Howard, when he's right, can walk over 100 times a year. That's like 100 singles. That's what makes the team. That's what makes things happen."