As the bench coach for the best team in baseball, Pete Mackanin has every reason to be a happy man. “This is the heyday of the Phillies right now. I’m so happy to be a part of it.”
Mackanin is aware what a special club the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies are shaping up to be. “I was speaking with the coaches in the clubhouse the other day,” he said from the visitor’s clubhouse last weekend at Nationals Park. “This club is the best team I’ve been associated with record wise in my 43 plus years in baseball.”
The former Montreal Expos player has seen highs and lows in over four decades in the game. “I’ve been on teams where you kind of hope you’re going to win”, he said. “With this team we expect to win and when we don’t we’re surprised that we didn’t.” Mackanin credits the manager’s attitude for much of the success of the team. “Charlie Manuel keeps the temperature at the right degree in the clubhouse and on the field. He never panics and keeps everybody positive. He wants to compete and win every day and it rubs off on his players.”
Mackanin says that the Phillies still feel the sting of last year’s playoff loss. “San Francisco beat us, and kind of stuck it to us, but this year we have a real good feeling going into it and we really like our chances to get to the World Series.”
One team that he says the Phillies aren’t taking for granted are the up and coming NL West leaders, the Arizona Diamondbacks. “They beat us two out of three when we played them at their place, and they’ve got a lot of components to make themselves a real good team and obviously they’re playing really good baseball.”
Still, Mackanin has seen enough to know that no matter how good you look in August, it’s not a guarantee you’ll be around in October. “If you recall last year San Diego looked like they were in real good shape and they kind of fell apart at the end,” Mackanin said. “The true test is going to be in the last 2-3 weeks of the season. Very often teams that lack experience, young teams especially, aren’t able to cross the finish line they way they’d like to. There’s a lot of baseball left, and a lot remains to be seen, but they’re a good young baseball team.”
Mackanin, who has managed the Pirates, Reds and the 1995 International League Champion Ottawa Lynx, has learned that in 43 years in baseball, there are several different ways that a 162 game season can unfold. “When you’re on a losing team the season drags out and seems to last forever, but when you’re winning so many games and being successful the season just flies by.” It seems as if Pete Mackanin is having the quickest summer of his baseball life.