"That doesn't mean that he's not a good player, and that doesn't mean that he's not part of our team, because he was. And I used to tell him that a lot. And I still feel that same way."
Two days later he was speaking to a much bigger crowd—the 40,000 who had packed into Lincoln Financial Field as part of the victory parade through Philadelphia. "I don't doubt this is the damn biggest parade I've ever been in in my life," Manuel gushed. It was funny. Philly was supposed to be the roughest test he'd face, but really, how bad had it been? No family tragedy. No culture shock. No colostomy bag. Just some tough fans, and they were all now chanting his name. They're so enamored of their team and their manager that two weeks ago Manuel turned the tables, taking the fans to task for being too easy on the first-place Phils, who through Sunday were 23--9 on the road but just 13--16 at home.
How long will the unlikely love affair last? Who knows? Manuel isn't the type to sweat what the future holds. Whatever happens, he'll be able to deal with it. So he'll just go on meeting each day the same way he always has. Ready to win over people. Ready to fight.
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