The more things change, the more they stay the same. The Philadelphia Phillies have decided to bring back former manager Larry Bowa as a bench coach next year on Ryne Sandberg’s new coaching staff. Bowa was the manager of the Phillies in the transition period when they went from regular cellar dwellers in the NL East to contenders from 2001-2004.
Fans in Philadelphia have always been split on how they feel about Larry Bowa, who was an All-Star shortstop for the Phillies. Many fans believe it was his flare and highly energetic emotions that helped guide the Phillies to what would become a World Series championship team, while others prefer to believe Bowa held back the young talent just long enough so that it truly did not thrive until he left the team.
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I, for one, love bringing back Larry Bowa.
I have always been a fan of his coaching style and think it is pretty evident when watching MLB Network that Bowa knows the game better than most people. He will be a huge asset for Sandberg in his first full season managing the Phillies. It never hurts to have someone who has been in your seat before sitting next to you and helping you avoid easy mistakes.
Bringing back Larry Bowa is being viewed as another example of the Phillies not giving up on the past. Truth is, Bowa’s time in Philly overlapped with only three players on the current roster — Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and, of course, Jimmy Rollins. The Phillies shortstop has had a tough past two years, and the team is hoping that Bowa may help Rollins find the form that led to him being the NL MVP early in his career.
Larry Bowa coming back to coach with Sandberg is, in a way, the team going full circle. Bowa and Sandberg were both traded by the Phillies to the Chicago Cubs for shortstop Ivan Dejesus in what many fans believe was the worst trade in Phillies history. Sandberg went on to become an All-Star second baseman for the Cubs, and Bowa was viewed as the best shortstop in Phillies history until Rollins came along.
In addition to bringing back Bowa, the Phillies also have decided to bring back third-base coach Pete Mackinin after a brief hiatus and have cut ties with assistant hitting coach Wally Joyner, who decided to go back to his home on the West Coast to find a job in baseball out there.
It seems as though Sandberg is bringing back trustworthy veterans to help bring out whatever is left of the aging Phillies lineup. This may not be a bad move because most of the young players have played for Sandberg in the Phillies farm system and, as I stated before, bringing back familiar faces may be all that is needed to get the Phillies veterans back on the ball.
Maybe this is just a case of the Phillies going back to what they know has worked. Perhaps, this is the franchise not being ready to let go of the past. Either way, the future is looking a little brighter today for the Phillies and looking to the past for guidance may be the best bet for success at this point.