More than just being a fan of his numbers, I've always been a fan of Manny Ramirez. You could call me a Manny supporter. The guy makes me laugh. He seems to possess the simplicity of a child. He's goofy. He's wacky. He has his own strange way of viewing the world. He's simply carefree and unburdened. Hitting slump? "Don't worry about it," Manny would intone. And sure enough, he'd come around, as always.
For all his misadventures in left field, and there have been many (none more obvious, or gruesome, as the one in Anaheim last weekend), Manny is actually an underrated fielder -- especially at Fenway, where he really knows how to play the wall. He has a great arm and a quick release, and he always seems to be among the league leaders in outfield assists. How many base runners have tested Manny by trying to take second only to find themselves sitting in the dugout moments later?
The catch, high-five, and relay for a double play in Baltimore is one of my favorite plays -- ever. Baseball, after all, is a game and it should be fun. And no one seems to have more fun than Manny Ramirez.
But there is a difference between a carefree attitude and indifference. There is a difference between having fun and showing disrespect for your manager, your coaches, your teammates, the owners who pay your salary, and the fans who support you. Manny Ramirez has crossed that line.
Pushing 64-year-old traveling secretary Jack McCormick to the ground in Houston over a ticket allotment is way over the line.
Pissing and moaning about a contract extension when you are in the eighth year of a $160 milion contract is over the line. Countless Red Sox fans of average means have to pay the highest ticket prices in baseball to help pay that monster salary.
Quitting on your team in September 2006 was over the line, Manny. I didn't buy that "bad knee" story then, and I don't buy it now either. I call bullshit.
"Manny being Manny" was cute when he was doing something innocently odd and amusing to the point of being charming. Going inside the Monster during a pitching change was cute at first, but now it's grown old. Been there, done that. It's old news. Just like the repeated trade demands got old.
The E-Bay grill, and the classic car auction affairs -- who cares? I'm more concerned about a guy who forgets Little League fundamentals and who doesn't care enough to run hard to first on infield grounders. What an an example; the highest paid player, the star, who won't hustle and who shows no fire, no passion.
Isn't that the issue? Manny is always so nonchalant. He has that Alfred E. Neuman, "What, Me Worry?" quality that can be maddening. In fact he says it all the time; "Don't worry about it."
It's arrogance, pure and simple. It's an attitude that says, I'm different. I'm special. I'm better than the others. I play by my own set of rules. It's the worst kind of attitude a teammate can have because it isn't the attitude of a true team player. With Manny it's always "Me First." But as the old saying goes, there's no "I" in team.
The Man-Child behaves like a child. He is juvenile and often petulant. Bailing on his teammates during a pennant race was disgraceful the first time. It is disgusting and unforgivable this time.
Manny doesn't get it. He the center of his own universe. He lives in Manny Land -- population 1. But he is an aging star who is clearly in decline. Want to bet he won't knock in 100 runs again this year? There was a time when Manny routinely had a slugging percentage over .600, but this year it's .530. Not bad, but not what it once was.
Manny will be 37 early next season. I'm assuming -- I'm hoping -- that the Red Sox will read the writing on the wall and move on from Manny and look to the future. That $40 million, two-year, club option could be better spent elsewhere.
Thanks for the funny, kooky moments, Manny (my favorite was cutting off Johnny Damon's throw at about 20 feet -- absolutely hilarious!). And thanks for your contributions to two World Series teams. For all of that, thanks.
But don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out of Boston this winter.
Copyright © 2008 Sean M. Kennedy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author's consent.
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