Monday, August 01, 2005
A loyal reader emailed me and made the comment that this site has gone from humorous ramblings to a suburb of Apologies for that. And without further ado, here's the last of the Manny meanderings:

He's back. He went into Terry Francona's office and said it to the gaggle of reporters. Then he showed it. And this Manny apologist and sympathizer (for the sake of full disclosure) couldn't be happier.

I dunno what makes him tick, but I don't care. It's not my concern. I am more concerned with the .300/30/100 that you can pretty much right in ink before the start of a season. I am concerned with his production at the plate. The AL-leading home run and RBI count. Even the production you get from him in the outfield.

But the public outcry you got from the not-quite-the-intelligensia of Red Sox Nation was maddening. "Why doesn't he play the game right, like Trot Nixon..." Tim McCarver's role as baseball-played-the-right-way-like-Derek-Jeter police. The so-called "trade demand" that he made, as aired by Sox President Larry Lucchino, fanned those flames. Other subsequent comments added fuel to the fire and laid the world's problems at Manny's feet.

I tend to look past that all, right or wrong, because of the numbers he's put up. In the offseason leading up to the 2001 season, when the Red Sox had the choice between Mike Mussina and Manny Ramirez, they (wisely) chose Manny. In fact, they opened the books for him because, at that time, that's what the market value was. It's not his fault he makes 20 million a year.

From the first pitch he saw at Fenway, which landed in the area that now is comprised of $125 dollar-glorified bleacher seats, ranks as one of my favorite Red Sox (check!) moments in recent history. He won the AL batting title in 2002, the 2004 AL home run crown, and the 2004 World Series MVP award. Since 2003, and this includes a trip to game 7 of the ALCS and a World Series run, no Red Sox player has appeared in more games. None.

And for the folks who keep inanely pointing to the fact that Manny would not fit in with the New England Patriots (check!), you're right. He wouldn't. I'm guessing his 40 time is dog slow, he might not have great hands like Ben Watson, and I'm not sure how he'd handle a safety blitz in the pocket like Tom Brady.

He's not a football player, both in talent, and in terms of the way NFL players live under their respective collective bargaining agreement. NFL players don't get guaranteed contracts. Manny does. And besides, if MLB players didn't have guaranteed deals, then names and numbers on baseball rosters would change more than the price of lobster at the local fish market.

So, if a guy who is putting up those numbers needs a day off once in a while, even if it is perceived as a time where his team oh-so-desperately needs him...or if he needs to take a piss inside the Green Monster...or if he doesn't always bust his ass out of the box...or whatever misplaced slight you can make about him in regards to the way he plays the game, fine. Pooh-pooh him all you want. But when he comes through in the pinch like Sunday...hits the bomb that sets up a ninth-inning comeback...puts the team ahead in the 11th or 12th...or somehow bops along and robs a home run in the corner of Yankee Stadium...

It's fine with me. It's Manny being Manny... And considering what makes up the definition of being Manny, it leads to good things.
One last Manny tidbit. In his post-game interview with Eric Frede, the big star of the day had this to say about his four-day mini controversy: "This is the place to be. Man, it's Manny being Manny. This place is for me. I'm just happy to be here."

Yes, the Triple Crown: he just referred to himself in the first, second, and third persons.

And this one, too: "I'm just here to play and win. I'm a gangster. I'm still here. I'm here to win. I'm here to help this team win for 2005."

Straight gangsta trippin', indeed.

Remember this empassioned statement, made in front of a Congressional subcommittee?
"Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. My name is Rafael Palmeiro and I am a professional baseball player. I'll be brief in my remarks today. Let me start by telling you this: (and this is where he put on a real serious, angry face and started pointing at the members of the committee like dogs that did poopie on the rug) I have never used steroids. Period. I don't know how to say it any more clearly than that. Never. The reference to me in Mr. Canseco's book is absolutely false. I am against the use of steroids. I don't think athletes should use steroids and I don't think our kids should use them. That point of view is one, unfortunately, that is not shared by our former colleague, Jose Canseco. Mr. Canseco is an unashamed advocate for increased steroid use by all athletes."

Well, the latest report about Raffie's pee-pee looks like the Chinese embassy: a red flag in front of it.

Amazing run for the latest member of the 3,000 hit club. Cheater. His statement this afternoon:
"I have never intentionally used steroids. Never. Ever. Period," he said. "Ultimately, although I never intentionally put a banned substance into my body, the independent arbitrator ruled that I had to be suspended under the terms of the program."

So is this going to be the new buzzword, intentionally?

But I hope MLB doesn't stop there. There's another slugger who entered this season looking like a gaunt shortstop who also mentioned to a Grand Jury that he intentionally used steroids.

That same slugger, whose batting average to start the year put him just above the legal blood-alcohol level to operate a motor vehicle, just capped off a 15-HR July and looks more like the slugger of old. I'm sure it's just because he began eating fast food again, but it could be something else.
The new car is great. The brakes work great. So does the accelerator.

At one point today, on the drive back to NY, I looked down at the speedometer as the new S60 was floating along and Nashville Skyline was blasting on the hi-fi.

87 mph. A Schilling slider. And a hefty speeding ticket if the Connecticut State Police are the ones holding the JUGS gun.
Congrats to Peter Gammons, the man who got me hooked on baseball and sports. Yesterday just merely confirmed what all have thought for quite some time: You're a Hall of Famer.
Steve Carell is the next big thing. Brick Tamlin needs his own movie.
R.I.P Miguel Respress. Another lost, way too young.

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