Th-Th-That's All Folks: Manuel Ousted

On Monday, the ax that somehow managed to avoid landing on Jerry Manuel's head after numerous seasons of frustrations and underachievement finally landed to deliver a crushing blow to the Sox skipper, who was fired after six seasons on the South Side.

"If you don't get it done, you have to try to find a new plan of action or find out where you have missed the boat," GM Ken Williams said at a press conference Monday. "We have tried a number of things talent-wise, personnel-wise, coach-wise, and what I've determined is that we need a new direction in the dugout," Williams said.

According to Williams, Manuel knew he would not be brought back for 2004 as early as last Tuesday when the Sox were eliminated from playoff contention after being swept out of the playoff picture by the Central Division champion Minnesota Twins.

Perhaps the kicker in the Sox' 2003 season was their poor record against the lowly Detroit Tigers, baseball's worst team. The Sox finished with a losing record against the Tigers, which included a humiliating sweep at Comerica Park in early July.

More devestating to the Sox season than that, however, was their 0-6 record at the Metrodome, where the Twins ultimately walked away with the division.

Manuel left with nothing but respect for the Sox. "It was a tough summer for me personally, but I wouldn't trade it. I came here to be a servant, not a celebrity. Obviously, that changed, but I don't have any regrets."

Williams now faces the biggest task as a general manager: Finding someone to right the ship.

While there's no clear cut favorite at the moment, AA-Birmingham manager Wally Backman and Tigers bench coach Buddy Bell have been rumored early on in the stages of finding a replacement.

Manuel concluded his five-year managerial career with the Sox on Sunday when the South Siders ended their season with a three-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals. The sweep of the Royals propelled Manuel to an even 500 wins as skipper of the Sox.

Manuel closed out his managerial stint with the Sox at 500-471. His best year as skipper was unquestionably 2000, when the Sox won 95 games en route to the American League Central crown.

However, after getting into the playoffs in '00, it was all downhill for Manuel and the Sox, who were quickly swept away by the Seattle Mariners and then proceeded to finish 83-79 the next season and just 81-81 in 2002 before Manuel finally got the ax.

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