I Am Moron, Hear Me Roar!!!
If you listen to ESPN Radio’s morning show, Mike & Mike In The Morning with Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic, you would have heard an awful lot of talk about Manny Ramirez the last couple days. Normally, I tend to agree more with Golic than Greeny, and you would think with Golic’s Cleveland roots I would especially be on his side on this topic. But not this time. In case you missed it, Golic essentially was saying that he doesn’t understand why the Indians are/were so upset with Manny standing there like a tool admiring his 6th inning home run Tuesday night….a fairly meaningless home run that only reduced the Red Sox deficit from 5 to 4. When Greeny proceeds to make an apt and succinct, if not excellent, point, comparing it to a football player overcelebrating a touchdown to change the score from 35-0 to 35-7, Golic tries his hardest to somehow shoot it down with an assinine retort along the lines of remarking how in football when you score you have to give the ball back. Yeah, good argument big guy. It doesn’t change the core comparison that Greeny was trying to make….that it’s an overcelebration in the midst of a blow out. We know football is played differently than baseball, Golic….thanks.
Then you have Buster Olney writing today in his blog about how Manny should somehow be excused because he’s such a good guy. Wow. Really, Buster? That’s all you’ve got? That’s your point, huh? I’m really annoyed with how Buster, Golic, and a couple others at ESPN are acting like they are SO shocked that Cleveland is upset about Manny’s pose. Give me a break. We all know Manny’s a moron and a fun-loving little kid in a man’s body, but that doesn’t change the fact of what he did. If he commited a crime, his lawyer couldn’t say, “Oh, that’s just Manny being Manny, he doesn’t an ounce of malintention in his body.” That would never fly. Same thing here. I know Manny didn’t INTEND to show up the Indians, but he DID…..in a 7-3 ball game none the less. He’s gonna eat a fastball from an Indians pitcher next season, both benches will clear, someone will get a 4 or 5 game suspension, and life will go on. But lets cool it with the act of shock and surprise that the Indians and their fans would dare take exception to Manny acting like an arrogant prick in their stadium.
To be fair, Manny did actually talk to the media yesterday and he addressed the Indians’ anger, saying:
“Man, I’m just happy to do something special like that. I’m not trying to show up anybody out there. I’m just trying to go have fun. If somebody strikes me out and shows me up, that’s part of the game. I love it. I like that. I like to compete, and when people strike me out or whatever and they show me up, it’s all good. There’s no hard feelings. I’m not trying to show anybody up.”
I can respect that Manny is at least able to say that he’s cool with pitchers showing him up when they strike him out, but you don’t too often see pitchers going out of their way to REALLY show Manny up when they strike him out with the bases empty, 2 outs, and trailing by at least 4 runs late in the game. That’s the point everyone seems to be missing….this game wasn’t really close and it made Manny look like he only cared about his own satisfaction in hitting a home run and that he didn’t even care that his team was on the verge of going down 3 games to 1 to the Indians. One person who does seem to get it and have some perspective on this issue is Casey Blake, the ultimate baseball professional. He was quoted as saying:
“People say it’s Manny being Manny, but it’s so opposite of how I am that it’s hard for me to deal with. To me it was a little excessive. Maybe if he had won the game with it, but it got them to within four . . . Good job.”
I love that quote because you can just hear the sarcasm dripping from those words, ‘good job’. If Casey Blake is this upset about something, you know a line has been crossed. Yes, we’re angry. Yes, we’ll get over it. Especially when next our team is playing for their first World Series title since 1948 and Manny can only sit there and watch, although his arms will probably still be in the air celebrating his last meaningless home run of the season.
But Would You Take Him Back?
If you can still remember the empty feeling of Manny signing with Boston, then you probably also are still left with that bad taste in your mouth. Something never felt right about it. Well, there was a fascinating story this week in The Boston Globe talking about the circumstances of Manny’s exit from Cleveland. They talked with a man, Frank Mancini, who has been working in the Indians Clubhouse for many years and has always had a close friendship with the players, particularly guys like Joey/Albert Belle and Manny Ramirez. In fact, when Albert signed with the White Sux, he asked Frank to come with him. When Frank informed Joey/Albert that he couldn’t leave behind his family and his team, Albert was so furious he refused to speak to Frank ever again. Along came the young Manny Ramirez, and again, an inseperable bond was forged between the two men. And so it was that Frank found himself stuck between the 2 clubs fighting for Manny’s services, the Red Sox and the Indians, and trying to help Manny do what he felt would make him happiest. When Manny was leaning towards signing with Boston, he told his agent that one of the conditions had to be the Red Sox hiring Mancini away from the Indians. The Indians saw this as a last chance to keep Manny, and asked Frank to try to talk to Manny and convince him why Cleveland would be the best fit. According to Mancini,
“I explained to Manny that money’s not everything. I told him Boston can be a tough place to play. I told him I couldn’t make the decision for him, and that he should talk to other people, too. I told him, ‘I love you like a brother, but I can’t go with you. I hope you understand. But whatever you decide, I still care about you and will help you any way I can.’ “
Manny pondered this and came up with a startling decision after talking to him. As told in the Boston Globe Story:
When the conversation ended, Ramírez told him, “You know what, Frank, I think I’m going to stay in Cleveland.”
But by the end of that day, the Red Sox upped the financial ante considerably. Mancini believes Ramírez was under great pressure from Moorad and the players’ union to sign.
“That’s just my opinion,” he said yesterday, “but the union tells these guys, if you don’t sign for top dollar, you’re not only hurting yourself, you’re hurting the guys below you, too.
“Manny is a sensitive person. He doesn’t want to hurt anybody. He wants everybody to like him. That’s crucial to him. He greets people walking down the hall with big hugs. He wants everyone to like him. He doesn’t want to let people down. I’m sure he felt that pressure from the union, his agent. That’s my opinion. That was a terrifying decision.”
The most fascinating thing that I noticed in the article was Mancini’s deep down belief that Manny truly has not been as happy in Boston as he once was in Cleveland.
“He lives in a hotel. He misses his privacy. He gets no privacy, and that bothers him, that people won’t allow him to be the way he was. Wherever he goes, people follow him. That bothers him.
“He doesn’t have the same close relationship with players on the team that he did here. It’s a different environment. There you had Pedro Martínez, who also is Dominican, but no offense to Pedro, Pedro was into being Pedro. He seems to have a healthy relationship with [David] Ortiz, he’s a nice man, Mr. Ortiz. He has Julian [Tavarez] to help him out.
“But here, he was so at peace. I don’t think he’s all that happy. It makes me kind of sad.”
“To this day, he still misses it here. And when he’s here, he rakes, which makes me worried for our team.”
I found that last line of interest, particularly in light of Manny’s future free agency. Don’t get me wrong, we all know Manny isn’t coming back to Cleveland, but I got to thinking…..would we want him back? The answer is an obvious ‘YES!’, no matter how much I ripped his antics earlier in this post, the fact is, Manny always has been and probably always will be a GREAT baseball player. Furthermore, despite said antics, which can infuriate opponents and their fans, they somehow always seem more endearing when he’s ‘your guy’. Obviously, the one thing I agree with Buster Olney with is that Manny doesn’t mean any ill intent towards anyone and he doesn’t INTEND to show up his opponents. My only point was, lets not act like this is such a shock that people are upset by it. Intentional or not, Manny DID show up the Indians in a game in which his team was getting blown out, and I don’t care who you are, that kind of action is unacceptable.