They say that Irish storytellers never let the facts get in the way of a good story.
I’m Irish and I have a little story. And the facts are pretty good in their own right, so this story is getting told.
Let’s start here: I’ve gotten a few emails about this list, mostly from people who want to tell me they’re enjoying it.
Three of them also made a plea for Chris Manno to be included. He’s the only one who’s had a case made for him. Maybe there’s a Chris Manno fan club. Maybe it’s Manno, himself, writing me using three different emails.
Or maybe he made a pretty huge impression on a lot of people.
I think the last one’s right.
To be perfectly honest, Manno was not originally on this list. He was under consideration. I wanted to put him on. He was my favorite pitcher in 2008, but his numbers don’t quite measure up, especially to the guys from early in the decade, when pitching was king on the Cape.
But two things made me change my mind. The emails planted the seed and sparked my own recollections; an unrelated email chain with some friends debating MLB Hall of Fame credentials did the rest. I’ll let my friend Matt explain: “I’m becoming less and less enamored with the idea of best being defined by numbers, but I don’t know how else to define it. I want the HoF to tell the story of baseball.”
And thus, Chris Manno makes this list.
The numbers are great. I think he was the best pitcher in ’08 even though he didn’t win the award. The Mariners didn’t lose a game in which Manno pitched. He went 3-0 with a 1.93 ERA. He struck out 45 in 42 innings.
But with Manno, it was more than that. In the all-star game, with the requisite flame-throwers lighting up radar guns, Manno was the best pitcher. I watched him in the bullpen. Before I looked at a program and realized who it was, I legitimately wondered if he was a ball boy or maybe a pitching coach. Manno is tall, but incredibly lanky. He doesn’t look the part.
Not long after he walked in from the bullpen, though, I was sold. He came into a bases-loaded jam and struck out two to end the inning. He struck out two more in the next inning. In a game where pitchers almost always go just one inning, Manno’s probably the only pitcher with four all-star game strikeouts. He’s the craftiest lefty I’ve seen on the Cape since I started this blog.
When the games counted, Manno’s story was even better. He was the leader of a team that brought Harwich its first championship in 21 years. He pitched the clinching game of the finals, allowing just an unearned run and striking out nine in 6.2 innings. By all accounts, Manno was among the best team-first players you’ll ever see on the Cape.
For that — and for some numbers that stand up to anyone’s in his class — I can make room for Chris Manno.
(And make room for an excessively long entry. Apologies.)
After the Cape
Manno struck out 72 in 2009 for Duke but did have an ERA above four. He was drafted in the 38th round by Washington in June, but he has opted to return to Duke for his senior year.