Friday, August 01, 2008

Goodbye Manny

I’ve said it many times. I’m a baseball fan first and foremost. I have never once tried to hide my Red Sox bias on this page, and I won’t try to do it here.

The Manny Ramirez trade had to be done. No question about it, Manny needed to be out of Boston, and he needed to be out ASAP. But the way everything went down in the past couple of weeks might have damaged baseball more than anything else.

What we saw today was just the latest and most high-profile example of a petulant, crybaby superstar who never wanted to be in the city he was in. And once again, the athletes have all of the power in these situations. Especially in baseball where the contracts are guaranteed, and a player can simply sit down if he no longer wants to play for his team.

Sure, Manny might get branded as a quitter, or a clubhouse cancer. But Manny’s reputation around the majors already precedes him. Teams know what they’re getting in Manny when he signs his next $80M contract in November – they’ll get a .290 hitter with 25-35 homeruns and somewhere around 95+ RBIs, and probably about 135 games played and at least three to five legitimate “sit down” games where Manny just doesn’t feel like doing his job.

It’s a sad state when an athlete can shoot his way out of town and get rewarded four months later with a massive contract, but it’s not the first time we’ve seen it, and it’s probably not going to be the last. I don’t know why I’m even surprised anymore.

As for the trade itself, let me be very up front about this. I like Jason Bay. When I lived in Pittsburgh, I had the opportunity to watch him play a lot. I think he’ll do very well in Boston. But I hate how much Boston sacrificed for what is essentially a lateral move.

Maybe Manny was such a headache in the clubhouse that everyone will perk up just with his absence. Maybe Brandon Moss & Craig Hansen will never pan out. Maybe the two draft picks that the Dodgers are now going to get when Manny walks away next year will never even get a cup of coffee in the majors. And obviously the Red Sox aren’t against paying other teams to take players off their hands (see Renteria, Edgar). But to give all that up just to get rid of a problem child seems a little ridiculous.

Of course, the Red Sox weren’t going anywhere with Manny this year. He would have continued to be a problem, perhaps even leading to a situation like the Angels had with Jose Guillen a few years back when they simply told him to stay home and collect a paycheck. So if getting rid of Manny was the ultimate goal, then so be it.

Personally, Manny lost me a few years back when he refused to come into a game in Tampa Bay after Trot Nixon was injured and unable to play, simply because Terry Francona had promised Manny the day off. The same game in which Matt Clement took a line drive off his head and people wondered if he was alive or dead. Manny couldn’t be bothered to get off his ass and help his teammates out by playing a couple of innings in the field. That one game summed up Manny’s time here for me – his teammates were doing everything they could do to help the team get through the game, and Manny sat in the dugout with his feet propped up spitting seeds.

For me, I say goodbye with no regrets.

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