WHILE THE PHILLIES' talent is undeniable, it's the manager who makes the team go.

That's basically what Mike Schmidt wrote in his latest Associated Press column. In particular, he praised Charlie Manuel for benching reigning-MVP Jimmy Rollins last week when Rollins failed to run out a routine popout (that happened to fall in safely).

A clear indication of how respected Manuel is, Schmidt said, is that Rollins took his benching like a man. It's all part of being a player's manager. The Hall of Fame third baseman then explained what that sometimes-cryptic term means:

"He could have his locker in the players' section and they wouldn't mind. He can take a ribbin' and dole one out, too. He's got his own sense of how the game should be played and how every major leaguer should carry himself.

"He doesn't care what people think, say or write about him because he is secure within his own skin. A manager like this, you grow to love. Strange word to associate with a major leaguer and his manager, but Charlie is loved, and there is no stronger asset a manager can have."

It might not be Conlin-esque, but it's not bad.

Remembering those no-hitters

One of baseball's most hallowed accomplishments began 70 years ago today.

Cincinnati Reds lefthander Johnny Vander Meer pitched the first of his consecutive no-hitters when he beat the Boston Braves, 3-0, on June 11, 1938. Four days later, Vander Meer blanked the Dodgers, 6-0, in the first night game at Brooklyn's Ebbets Field.

Some 14 years later, while playing for Tulsa in the minors, Vander Meer pitched a no-hitter against Beaumont. The manager for Beaumont was Harry Craft, a former Reds outfielder who caught the final out of Vander Meer's second major league no-hitter. Pretty neat. *

- Ed Barkowitz