Charlie Manuel talked for longer than usual prior to tonight's game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Topics ranged from how good of an arm he had as an outfielder back in the day -- a good one, of course -- to how the giant scoreboard at Citizens Bank Park, with all the different information and numbers, reminds him of CNBC's Squawkbox TV show monitoring the stock market.
It's a lot easier to talk at length while being more open when your team is cruising into the postseason. There's a chance the Phillies could take another important step on their quest towards the World Series tonight. If the Phillies beat the Cardinals at CBP and the Mets beat the Braves down in Atlanta, the team will clinch its fifth-straight NL East crown.
I asked Charlie before the game if he'd be checking the scoreboard at all throughout the night with the outcome in Atlanta potentially impacting whether or not he needs to wear goggles later this evening.
"Probably. I've been looking at the scoreboard ever since the season started. This one's big enough to see. Matter of fact, this one's got enough stuff on it, it's kind of like looking at Squawkbox or something."
Clinching the division is a big step, but it's not nearly as big as it was a few seasons ago. Plus, there's the fact that they're doing it with two weeks left in the season. How does this team keep the passion levels so high? How do they keep the foot on the gas?
Manuel said the addition of the pitching staff that is hungry and has yet to win a title is a big part of it. His core guys aren't satisfied with only one title. Cole Hamels famously said on that celebration day at CBP in 2008 that he wanted to ride down Broad St. as a champion again, and again, and again. There's the right fielder who has added tremendous energy to the ball club.
Then there's Philadelphia.
Charlie was asked about the atmosphere that's created here and whether it helps the Phillies retain their passion.
"I think this city, I think the ballpark, I think the fans, I think everything about it," Manuel said. "I think the way that we talk -- the way that our players talk. The attitude of the players has to be that way. All of the things -- the noise, the loudness, the fact that we fill our ballpark up. They like to play here and they like to play in front of our fans."
Those fans wouldn't mind an extra treat tonight.
The plastic is hanging above the lockers, waiting to be draped down. The champagne is on ice.
Could be a nice little pre-party tonight in South Philly. But we all know the real party won't happen for another month and a half. We all want a rager then.
Tonight's starters are Vance Worley (11-2, 2.92) vs. Jaime Garcia (12-7, 3.68)
Tonight's Lineup: Rollins, Victorino, Utley, Pence, Polanco, Mayberry, Francisco, Schneider, and Worley.
Clincher? The Braves-Mets game starts a half hour later than the Phils game tonight. If the Phils win, and the Braves game is still in progress, the team said there is a chance they put it on the jumbotron at Citizens Bank Park.