Pete Mackanin will arrive early at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday, as always. He’ll no doubt be friendly and kind to all the people he passes in the hallways. He’ll probably tell a corny joke or two before filling out a lineup card for the 412th time as Phillies manager.
Then he’ll put on a baseball uniform for perhaps the final time in a 49-year career during which he’s done just about everything in the game he loves.
“One thing that I’m proud of is that I’ve been a minor-league player, a minor-league manager, a minor-league field coordinator, a major-league advance scout, a coverage scout at the big-league level. I’ve been a coach in the big leagues, third base. I’ve been a bench coach. I’ve been an interim manager and a manager,” Mackanin said from his office Saturday. “I’ve done pretty much everything there is to do other than GM, which there’s no way I’d ever want that job.”
It was a general manager who decided Mackanin won’t manage the Phillies after the 2017 season finale Sunday against the New York Mets. Matt Klentak, the 37-year-old Ivy League guy with a soft spot for analytics who inherited Mackanin, decided he wanted his own man to guide the team in 2018. After being a caretaker during a painful rebuild, the 66-year-old baseball lifer won’t get to be in the dugout to see if all the young talent can put it together and become a contender.
“I feel that I’m fortunate to have got this job and the other jobs that I’ve gotten as a manager,” said Mackanin, who also had short stints as an interim skipper with Pittsburgh and Cincinnati a decade ago. “There are only so many of them and there are a lot of baseball people who want these jobs.”
Mackanin wanted to keep the job he got after Ryne Sandberg abruptly resigned in July 2015. But Klentak wanted a change. While Kentak never fully articulated why in a Friday news conference, Mackanin will become an Arizona-based special assistant to the GM.
Mackanin was asked if he had regrets for how he’s handled the club over the past 2 1/2 seasons.
“I always second-guess myself. You always make decisions and wonder if it’s the right decision,” Mackanin said. “The thing about in-game decisions is you have to make it based on so many variables. You have to make quick decisions and you have to be prepared for so many different things. Sometimes things come up that you overlook and you second-guess yourself.
“On the other hand, there are a lot of decisions that are made that a lot of people don’t understand, they don’t know what’s going on. They’re critical of it without knowing the reason.”
Mackanin's new contract will allow him to pursue other managerial jobs. His entire coaching staff will be free to seek other jobs as well. But Mackanin knows after first putting on a professional uniform in rookie ball as a 17-year-old with Wytheville in the Appalachian League in 1969, he may not do it again after Sunday.
“After 49 years, it’s a long time to be in any industry,” Mackanin said. “Not a lot of people get that far.”