July 28, 2005


Terry Francona on WEEI yesterday afternoon:
Manny was going to have a day off in Chicago the other day, we talked him out of it, at the time I said "to me Wednesday would be a better day." And then after last night's game we did go to him and say "Hey look, we're in a little bit of a bind now" and he goes "I still need it." So we're gonna sit Manny so he'll have tonight and tomorrow.
And so, one day after Francona said "You guys can have fun with [the Manny-wants-out rumors] because I know it'll have some legs for a couple of days," Tito himself guaranteed it some extra mileage.

The first thing that hit me is that Francona was so blunt in speaking about one of his players. And note that he and Ramirez discussed this the night before. So Francona, after a night's sleep, some conversations (I assume) with Theo Epstein, and lots of time to think about it, didn't put forth some excuse (i.e., lie) and didn't cite Manny's hamstrings -- he told the truth. (And Manny didn't reconsider and go to Francona on Wednesday morning.) ... Francona must be highly pissed off.

Gordon Edes (Globe) says Ramirez is "unmovable", "rarely held accountable" and "in essence, holding the team hostage. Speak out against him, and the fear is that Ramirez will withdraw like a petulant child and go into a three-year pout."

We're in a pennant race and battling a lot of adversity -- injuries and otherwise. It's times like these when you find out about your team and your players. More than ever, we need all 25 players pulling together, putting the team first in pursuit of victory. It's our responsibility to get there, and I think we will. I have a lot of faith in our players -- all of them -- and in the entire organization.
It's no secret that the Sox would like to not pay the remainder of Ramirez's contract. Once his hitting skills start to decline -- something some fans fear has already started -- he will not be very valuable at all. What's less clear -- because none of us play for the Red Sox or work in the front office, and because no one on the inside has gone on the record -- is how the club really feels about Manny. There have been hints, and every fan has an opinion, but we simply do not know.

David Heuschkel (Courant) says that the clubhouse reaction "wasn't as negative as it probably will be on the talk shows today." He quotes Millar:
Days off are all part of it. You're human. You might have some tightness. You might have some sore muscles. For certain guys, they need days off. Manny plays every day. ... This gives him two days off to refresh. It was a perfect time, playing the Devil Rays and we got a day off the next day. That's unfair [to criticize him]. People don't understand the grind of every day.
and Ortiz:
I don't know [if any players were disappointed in Ramirez refusing to play]. I got no comment about that. ... He was ready in the dugout just in case we needed him. People better leave Manny alone. That's what they need to do. Leave the guy alone, let him do what he's supposed to, stop questioning him and go from there.
More Ortiz: "You think if Manny wanted to be traded only one reporter in Boston would know? Manny isn't unhappy. If he was unhappy, we all would know." ... Of course, this is the Ortiz who said Pedro "ain't going to no Mets."

Heuschkel adds that "players might have questioned his commitment to the team if the Red Sox didn't beat the Devil Rays," which makes no sense to me. ... If players are upset, they should be upset whether the end result was a win or a loss.

Tony Massarotti (Herald):
Twenty million a year clearly is not what it used to be, because it cannot buy you even a hint of compassion, pride, sacrifice or dedication. All it seems to get you is blank stares and apathy, along, of course, with an annual request to be traded. ... All of this reflects most poorly on Ramirez, who is not a bad guy as much he is an astonishingly irresponsible one.
Yesterday, Massarotti wrote this:
Let's get something straight here: Ramirez never has been happy in Boston. Never, ever, ever. We might go so far as to suggest that Ramirez never has been truly happy anywhere, but none of us is really capable of knowing that. What we do know, for certain, is Ramirez has spent almost as much energy trying to leverage his way out of Boston over the past five years as he has knocking in runs.
There are several things going on here:

1. We don't know the exact condition of Ramirez's hamstrings. If they are truly hurting, then this discussion should be pretty short. It's the reason he jogged out the grounder on Tuesday night and that's the reason he needed yesterday off. I'd rather have him on the bench for one game against last-place Tampa Bay rather than going on the DL for at least two weeks.

2. Is Francona letting Ramirez have the final say about playing? If Tito believes Manny can play, he should pencil him into the lineup and then see if he refuses to take the field or bat. If Ramirez was promised a day off -- and he says he's hurting and needs a day to heal -- what is Francona supposed to do?

3. I'm willing to believe the reporters covering the Red Sox know a lot of things about the team and individual players that never make the papers, but instead of merely hinting at these things -- and acting like privileged insiders -- they need to let us know what they are basing these conclusions on.

SoSHer Bernie Carbohydrate has some interesting points:
[H]as it occurred to those who lay into Manny--from Edes to Mazz on down to the enraged EEI callers--that "Manny being Manny" means exactly what it means?

In other words, Manny can no more take the game seriously all the time than Belli could steal 30 bases this season, or Trot could hit lefties, or Wake could touch 95 on the radar gun?

It is easy for us to forgive physical shortcomings -- Damon has a weak arm, so we live with it and focus on what he does well -- but mental shortcomings or personality defects get massive SoSH threads and columnists in a lather. Now I'm not saying that all ballplayers are above criticism, but after a while you've gotta concede that each player is a set of strengths and weaknesses, and one of Manny's major, fundamental and permanent weaknesses is his attitude.

How come we don't get column inches devoted to how Wade Miller's lack of endurance is a "disgrace to the uniform?" Because that is seen as a physical defect, and something over which Miller has no control. But very few people are willing to concede that individuals sometimes have little control over their mental makeup as well. Do the asses in your life want to be asses or are they just that way?

Being momentarily annoyed with Manny is understandable, but there is no reason to think that if he just cared a little more, or if he'd just try a little harder, he'd grow a Chris Sabo attitude to go with his Dick Allen talent. It isn't gonna happen.
The Herald's Inside Track accepted some blame for all of this: "[D]on't shoot the messengers here, but Manny's latest temper tantrum comes just days after we rang up the Sox to inquire whether Mrs. Manny is preggers." ... What is odd about the privacy complaint is that it comes less than two weeks after Manny, his wife and son posed for a huge spread in the Boston Globe's Sunday magazine, complete with pictures of Manny Jr.'s Fenway-themed bedroom.

But then there is this from the Globe's Living Arts section:
Manny Ramirez and his wife, Juliana, are expecting their second child, and contrary to some reports, No. 24's been bragging about it all over town. ... "Secrets aren't the Ramirez family. We want Red Sox Nation to know us," Juliana said. "People recognize Manny Jr. when he walks down the street." Juliana said she knew the jig was up when David Ortiz's wife, Tiffany, recently congratulated her. And how did the bride of Big Papi know there was a baby on deck? Manny announced it in the clubhouse, of course. Juliana said she was even praised the other day by a salesperson at the Ermenegildo Zegna store on Newbury Street ... As for the Sports Illustrated item insinuating that the proud papa is unhappy in Boston and wants out, Juliana had this to say: "Manny hasn't told me anything about that. As a family, we love Boston and love living here."
Stay tuned.

In other matters, Trot Nixon was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left oblique strain. He could miss up to a month. ... Mike Timlin has a sore right elbow, but says he needs nothing more than rest. That was why he was unavailable last night. ... Curt Schilling on pitching for the third day in a row: "If you're the bullpen and you're not hurt, I can't see myself not being available if I'm down there. You can still get people out if you don't feel great." ... People in Hyde Park are excited about Manny Delcarmen's debut.

Matt Clement:
I remember the whole thing. I remember laying there and knowing what happened to me, but not panicking. The hardest part was I didn't really start getting scared until I was coming off the field and I started thinking about my wife and two boys ...

I just remember it ricocheting off my head, laying on the ground, and looking over toward first base, with kind of a ringing sensation in my ear. ... I wouldn't call it intense pain. It was more of a shock, knowing what happened ... Missing starts isn't really in my vocabulary, but I've got to be smart about it because it is my head. ... As of now I'm planning on everything going fine. I'm not going to be stupid enough to sit here and say I'm going to make my next start.
Sox are off tonight.


mrbandw said...

The latest Manny being Manny go round does not really bother me. We go through this kind of stuff at least once every year.

I take a lot of it with a grain of salt too. The written press and radio go out of their way to stoke the flames. Manny helps them sell a lot of ads.

On a side note, I just started reading your blog and I like it a lot. Thanks!

mouse said...

Oy. I am so sick of all the "brushfires" going around this team. And disgraced by seeing so many fans overreact to these sorts of things.

I really doubt that we know the entire story behind why Manny needed a day off. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't annoyed when I first heard about it, but in the end...if getting that extra day off will help him continue to hit homers and collect RBI all the way through September, than he can have it. Unless Manny decides to pull a Gary Sheffield and deliberately not play well just to get traded, then I don't see the point in raging about all this. Manny is Manny. Love him or hate him, the guy still goes out there and plays the game, and plays it well. And he's an important part of the Sox offense.

Please let this all die down when the trading deadline's passed. This is supposed to be baseball, not a soap opera.

Jack Marshall said...

These comments make one wonder if anyone here has actually managed or worked in an organization. Do banks tolerate officers who won't help out on the teller line during a personnel shortage because they're "really good at making loans"? Will the military put up with a GI who refuses to follow orders, because he's a such a good shot? Stars are leaders and role models whether they want to be or not, and their behavior builds a culture that either helps an organization succeed or undermines it. Those who use their talent and stardom to act up, demand special privileges and behave unprofessionally erode team play and ultimately wreck it. Why do you think Kevin Kennedy hasn't managed since he let Canseco make his own rules and encouraged Clemens to become a diva? He never comprehended this principle, but those who run most teams do.
What if Curt Schilling had refused to pitch in the play-offs last year? He sure needed a day off, didn't he? (And don't tell me Manny's refusal to play doesn't matter because it's July..one dumb loss against the D-Rays could easily cost the Sox a play-off berth.) Schilling's team-centered conduct sent one message to his mates about how you win, and Manny's sends another. And it has real negative effects, no matter how many runs he knocks in. Having your number one offensive player assume a "Who cares?" approach to winning is destructive; it's the reason the Sox put Manny on waivers in 2003, and it's the reason the Sox will and should trade him if they can get anything close to a fair trade.
Last year's "idiot" culture protected Manny (whom I have long suspected of really being an idiot, or at least a case of arrested emotional development who could not funtion successfully in any environment but professional sports), but the team's chemistry is different now. World Champs need to act like champs, and Manny never has, and never will. Pointing out that Doug Mirabelli makes base-running blunders too is missing the point.

redsock said...

World Champs need to act like champs, and Manny never has, and never will.

That sentence is internally inconsistent.

Now, Jack, answer my goddamn question:

If Manny Ramirez and Teammate X do the exactly same stupid things -- and Manny Ramirez is a way better hitter than Teammate X -- why does Manny Ramirez get so much more shit for his actions than Teammate X does?

mrbandw said...

Comparing players on an MLB team to the people who work in a bank or are in the military is riduculous.

Every year there's a game where 'we need Manny' and he still gets a day off anyway. Whatevah. It's not worth getting in a twist about to me.

Jack Marshall said...

Redsock: Here's the answer to your goddamned question (though I reject its premise...Manny does more of this stuff than anyone on the current team):
A superstar is a team leader whether he likes it or not; a 20 million dollar player's actions have infinitely more impact on the team than any thing a back-up catcher does. His productivity allows him to get away with more misconduct and on-field blunders (Manny, for example, would not be traded for the kind of confrontation with his manager that got Jay Payton shipped to Oakland), but as a leader and a star he is NOT supposed to take advantage of that. Leaders and stars always should be held to higher standards than the rank-and-file, not the same, and certainly not lower. Smart corporations fire CEOs for things that lower managers would only be reprimanded for (see Boeing). It's worse for Barry Bonds to be using steroids than Alex Sanchez. It's worse for the Mayor of DC to be caught using coke than some kid on the street. It's worse for a President to "lie about sex" than for Jude Law. Carl Yastrezemski used to loaf on grounders until he realized that what he did was magnified, and hurt the team more.

THAT's the answer, and it's a pretty well established organizational principle. Fisk, Yaz, Evans,Schilling, Wakefield and Veritek get it; guys like Boggs, Canseco, Pedro,and Manny...and an awful lot of otherwise astute fans... don't.

redsock said...

as a leader and a star he is NOT supposed to take advantage of that

But that is not the way the world works. It is not the way the world has ever worked. And I'm fairly confident that it is not the way the world will work in the future.

To expect otherwise is silly.

And to dole out criticism based on salary is also silly. So someone making the minimum -- say Youkilis, just to use an example -- can fuck up right and left without much consequence?

The impact on the game in question is a much better barometer to use.

And I don't think you really answered the question. You tossed it off after saying you disagreed with the premise.


Fisk, Yaz, Evans,Schilling, Wakefield and Veritek get it; guys like Boggs, Canseco, Pedro,and Manny...and an awful lot of otherwise astute fans... don't.

But you just said that "Carl Yastrezemski used to loaf on grounders" -- so apparently he didn't get it?

And I can't let this observation pass:

Fisk, Yaz, Evans, Schilling, Wakefield and Veritek [sic]: all white guys

Boggs, Canseco, Pedro, and Manny: 3 out of 4 are not white guys.

I'm making no comment on what is in your mind, but it's lists like this that I would point to as a possible example of how thoughts about race influence how we see the game and its players.

It is very subtle, but it happens way too often for me to believe it doesn't exist.

Jack Marshall said...

Redsock: Oh, please...when argument fails, play the race card. How juvenile. You want more racial diversity in my two groups: Fine. Black centerfielder who "got it": Willy Mays. White centerfielder who didn't: Mickey Mantle. White centerfielder who did: Joe Dimaggio.
White leftfielder who didn't: Ted Williams. Black leftfielder who didn't: Jim Rice. Black Yankee greats who do: Jeter, Williams. White Yankee great who didn't: Babe Ruth.

And Yaz loafed until he was about 24, then HE LEARNED. That was my point.

To clarify what should have been obvious first time around: yes, an employee's value is based on a balance of pluses and minuses, and thus an averege worker will get sacked for relatively minor infractions because he or she can be replaced with someone just as good who beheves better. BUT...the same misconduct, bad attitude or bad work habits are more damaging and thus greater negatives when they are done by an employee who is more vital to the organization...a star.. and more visible and influencial. Thus they desrve more criticism for it, and the true impact of their conduct has to be evaluated in that light...by who is doing it, and its consequential impact.
And that IS how the world works.