September 23, 2006

The Pain Of Manny

Who can speak for another man's pain? But the flip side of that question is in professional sports, everyone is hurt to one degree or another, and a measure of a player's commitment often revolves around his willingness to deal with that pain.
Gordon Edes writes Manny a new one in today's Globe.
Do you suppose that 20 years from now [after Manny has cashed $32 million in deferred payments], Ramirez will feel even the slightest bit of remorse for the way he quit on his Red Sox teammates in 2006, refusing to honor the code that is an article of faith for Jason Varitek and Mike Lowell, Curt Schilling and Coco Crisp, Trot Nixon and Alex Gonzalez, and Mark Loretta -- even the now-departed fat man, David Wells -- that you do all within your power to play hurt.

Barring a midlife conversion experience, I doubt it.
Edes claims that Manny has once again, through his agent, told the Red Sox he wants to be traded this winter. Does Manny want out? Who the hell really knows? I haven't paid a lot of attention to the sports pages this past week, but I must have missed this. Edes doesn't quote or attribute this bit of news to anyone.

Edes also tells us that
While the Red Sox crumbled when Ramirez went on hiatus -- last night was the 22d game out of 30 Ramirez has missed since taking himself out of the last game of the Yankee massacre Aug. 21 ...
Is Edes actually implying that the Red Sox crumbled after August 21 when Manny started sitting out? I didn't want to believe it at the time, but the five-game sweep by the Yankees was simply the nail in the 2006 coffin.

From August 1-20, Boston went 6-13. Since then, when Edes says Manny went "on hiatus", the Red Sox have been 14-17. So they actually haven't crumbled at all, they have improved. You'd think Edes would use that as his argument.

But if Edes is saying that with Manny's bat in the cleanup spot, Boston would not have "crumbled", well, he couldn't telegraph his biases any clearer than that.

26 comments:

Yaz-Tex said...

"Let Manny be Manny somewhere else"

As Gordon Edes writes in his column in today's Globe, even the most ardent Ramirez apologist will have to confront a litany of sobering facts and truths in reading a column that, in my opinion, is long overdue. Here's a morsel:

"While the Red Sox crumbled when Ramírez went on hiatus -- last night was the 22d game out of 30 Ramírez has missed since taking himself out of the last game of the Yankee massacre Aug. 21, during which he has been paid $1.918 million (calculated on his base salary of $15 million this season) -- he had the audacity this week, through agent Greg Genske, to reiterate to the Red Sox his desire to be traded this winter..."

Desire to be traded? Fuck him and the agent he rode in on. As one reads the accounts of Tek, Youk, Lowell, Gonzo, and several other Sox bandaging themselves up and sucking it up to get back in the line-up, Manny's indifference to the cause is a throwback to another time - one where he would have fit right in as one of 25 guys riding in 25 cabs.

In a twist of journalistic irony, the article comes on a day when the team finds themselves in Toronto, the emotional and cultural epicenter of hockey in Canada. The credo of hockey, whose combatants are notoriously impervious to and often defiant of pain, is summarized in a simple question that teammates ask of each other: are you injured, or are you just hurt?

While Ramirez has refused to play hurt - the team's hands tied in trying to acertain the veracity and significance of said pain - his teammates have played with and through a variety of injuries in an effort to save what became a lost season.

Kudos to Edes for bringing this article forth, one that will no doubt inspire much debate in this space and many others.

redsock said...

At SoSH, I learn that none of the other papers has anything on Manny's agent even being in town.

Seems like someone at Fenway might be using Edes as a media puppet to (try once again to) whip up the dolts in town against Manny. They try and try and he still gets standing ovations when he comes to the plate.

Broken Record Dept.: Manny has played more games in almost every season he has been in Boston than any other Red Sox player -- and when he hasn't, he is only two or three games from the top.

Hiatus, my ass.

redsock said...

And most of the noble players Edes mentions as playing through pain actually hurt the team by staying in the lineup despite steady sucking.

Edes is usually better than this.

Peter N said...

This Manny news was in the Htfd. Courant too. But much better documented by Edes. And if this is true, we'll hear something from Tito today. He said so. And now I don't know how I feel about Manny being Manny, with us, or elsewhere. We need more info.

Peter N said...

And we had a nice spotlight from baseballnooz.com, our two blogs. Did you catch it?? On the left side under THE CATCH.

redsock said...

I did see it. The Nooz guy emailed me.

And now I don't know how I feel about Manny being Manny, with us, or elsewhere.

This is the same old story that gets run out re Ramirez. I can't imagine it changing anyone's mind about Manny.

I would like some actual confirmation of the trade request, though, besides Edes typing it out.

Woti-woti said...

Yaz-tex, for years, the adjective preceding the phrase 'Canadian hockey player' was 'dumb'. They were hosed by the owners for years until they formed a union, were then hosed by the union boss, and since, all of them (not just the Canadians) succumbed meekly to the most obvious union-busting move in pro sports. You don't want pro athletes (your investment) playing hurt when it risks further injury--unless you have really good insurance.

As for Manny, as Redsock points out, the 5 games vs the Yanks toasted them. Manny's performance there is a matter of record. Many actually used the word 'uncompetitive' to describe the team's performance. Maybe Manny's teammates quit on him. But seriously, let's get all the info. before swallowing the annual 'dump Manny' drumbeat.

Zenslinger said...

Manny has delivered year in and year out. It takes the sting out of him being himself.

redsock said...

From SoSH:

Lyonking:
Manny is 34 years old. If he stays healthy enough to average 30 HR's and 100 RBI's a year for the next 5 years (age 39), he'll end up with 619 career HR's and 2,015 career RBI's. That would currently place Manny 5th all-time in HR's and 4th all-time in RBI's. All-Time.
Is Manny perfect? No. But it sure would be refreshing once in awhile to read about the historical career we are witnessing and not the all-too common articles that make good writers look like 5th graders.

Smiling Joe Hesketh;
Who's Edes's source for the newest trade demand from Manny? If it's a member of the front office, they should be fired immediately as they've just harmed any potential trade value he might have going into the winter. Dr. Charles, I'm looking at you. If it's the agent, I want direct quotes and not 3rd hand attribution. Seth Mnookin notes this point in his blog today as well: where are the actual quotes from anyone making the point about Manny's trade demand? There are none.
It's downright laughable that Edes negatively compares Manny's timeframe return from a potentially dangerous knee injury (patellar tendinitis is what John Valentin had before blowing out his knee) to Trot Nixon's six week shelf time for frigging bicep tendinitis.
As URI noted, Edes uses Manny's 2-for-22 results in the 8 games he did play in as evidence that Manny wasn't trying. The more obvious and simple conclusion to draw from that stretch is that he was still injured and it was affecting his production, escpecially considering he was out of the lineup before and after that 8 game stretch.

Smiling Joe Hesketh
I hate the thought that some bright boy in the team's FO is using the Globe as a PR machine by selectively leaking information in order to perhaps modulate the backlash should Manny actually be traded this winter. I hate the implications, I hate the propaganda part of this situation.
As Seth noted, the players Gordon notes as playing through pain really didn't help the club much as they were going so, did they? Gonzo lost 40 points off his batting average, Coco's struggled all year, Loretta went through a slump as well, and Tek and Nixon didn't even play through their injuries. Can't quite figure the point of that comparison.
I'm hoping the possible desire to get "gamers" on the team doesn't lead to a trade of Manny to Anaheim for Darin Erstad, Adam Kennedy and $24 of shiny beads.

glennhoffmania:
The writers' continual bashing of him pisses me off to no end. Until I hear his teammates or coaches complaining about him, I couldn't care less what Edes, CHB, etc. say about him. The discussion of deferrals is moronic. The inflammatory comments about his character are idiotic. How about mentioning that the Sox season has been over for a few weeks now and maybe the team is being cautious with a 34 year old stud with a bad knee who they are counting on for at least the next two years?

Norm Siebern:
I, for one, can't wait until the Sox get rid of that malingering, overpaid outfielder. He has missed so many games since he signed that contract, I don't care if he signed for $5.85 an hour - he is still overpaid. Jaysus, just look at all the time he has missed this year alone!
Even when he is in the lineup, his production is down. Just look at his numbers this year.
But, of course, we will get the same old excuses, the same old enablers who insist that in actuality, he hustles, his defense is better than it looks, blah blah blah. And of course the biggest falacy is that old chestnut "who will fill the five hole behind Manny." I say you can get better production out of Wily Mo Pena...
Oh, wait a second, I thought that article was about Trot Nixon. It isn't? Its about Manny Ramirez? What?! But Nixon is the outfielder who misses all the games, who underperforms, who is threatening to leave after this season. Manny is a Hall of Famer who has played more games, hit better and better performed to his contract expectations.
I don't understand.

Matthew Kory said...

This may not be a popular opinion but if Manny's knee is hurting and he wants to sit out the rest of the games after we've spit the bit, so what? I'm not the one paying him, I don't care what he makes. I only care that he helps the Red Sox win, and he has done that better than anyone since he's been in Boston. Better than ANYONE. Thats not to say he could have done it by himself, but Manny has been our best hitter since he came from Cleveland. Even this year, if you look at some advanced metrics (EQA for example) Manny has been more valuable than Ortiz has. I love Big Papi as much as anyone, but this only means Manny is that good.

I don't understand why people keep trying to run him out of town. It saddens me, honestly. As has been mentioned above, Manny has played more games (average per year) since he's been in Boston than any other player. He's hit better than anyone since he's been in Boston. He crushes the Yankees over and over again. He was the only one who showed up in that awful five game sweep. His teammates took the most cruicial five games of the season off, but not Manny. Thats clutch.

To Gordon Edes and all the sports writers in Boston I say get off his salary, get off his back, and leave the guy alone. This is muckracking, this is unprofessional, and this makes Boston look bad. I can't stand it.

redsock said...

Seth Mnookin's comments are here.

One snip (my emphasis):

Manny's always had a low pain threshold [but] you don't rack up season after season of 155 games because you're looking for time off. ... I think Edes is one of the best reporters, and one of the best writers, working the beat today. His column — which didn't contain a single quote — gets to one of my pet peeves: the fact that sports writers are, uniquely given the latitude to regularly elide from the role of reporter to that of columnist.

Yaz-Tex said...

Yaz-tex, for years, the adjective preceding the phrase 'Canadian hockey player' was 'dumb'.....You don't want pro athletes (your investment) playing hurt when it risks further injury--unless you have really good insurance.

Woti, the point I was trying to make in my analogy to hockey was not to question the intelligence of those who play the game, but rather to draw attention to the simple fact that professional athletes - hockey and football players chief among them - are expected to play hurt.

What is the threshold of pain one crosses before a sore knee becomes patellar tendinitis? A painful shoulder from a frayed rotator cuff? A jammed finger to a non-displaced fracture? Sometimes, empirical data exists (i.e., MRI, X-Rays) that shows when the former has become the latter, while in other times only the patient can decide if and when he's ready to play through the pain.

Edes' article identifies a number of Manny's teammates who have sucked it up and played through their pain, in a time-honored credo of team sports to themselves and their teammates. Edes goes on to invoke the historic moment when Kirk Gibson hit his walk-off HR off Eck in the World Series. If you saw it, there was no doubt that Gibson was not only hurt, but injured.

When Maple Leafs' defenseman and Hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Baun came back to play on a broken ankle to help Toronto win a Stanley Cup, a noted hockey scribe wrote that "never has one ankle been so far from a heart" in describing Baun's selfless, courageous effort to help his team win a championship.

Where is Manny's heart? Hard to say since he won't talk to the media - English, Spanish, French, or Croatian - but it's hard to make a case in his defense that he actually gives a shit. In a town that has seen heroic acts of courage and selflessness from the likes of Bobby Orr, Larry Bird, and Tedy Bruschi, to name but a few, why does Ramirez warrant a free pass on this issue?

Because he provides protection to Ortiz from the clean-up spot?

Jack Marshall said...

Z-Z-Z-Z-Z..huh? Wha? Manny again? What time is it??

Nobody knows how Manny's knee feels, so speculation about whether he's malinguering or being a wimp or sulking or just taking a vacation is inherently unfair. If he could play without injuring himself and help a team that is desperate for outfielders and a clean-up hitter and isn't doing so, then he's a self-centered skunk. If he's legimately hurting and would love to play if he could, then he's doing all he can. Absent psychic powers or Manny coming out and saying, "Yup, I've quit on the team; why should I be uncomfy when I can sit in the dugout and still collect all that money?", there is no basis other than anti-Manny or pro-Manny bias to presume one or the other...EXCEPT that he, like all of us, deserves the benefit of the doubt. So unless there's some proof to the contrary, I'm assuming that if Manny could play, he would.

But NONE of this has anything to do with how great a hitter Manny is or has been. If he's the greatest hitter ever, he still would be a skunk for abandoning his team mates when the ship was swamped. His value wouldn't and couldn't justify such conduct. But only Manny knows what he feels.

The speculation is unfair. I'm going back to sleep now. Wake me when the Sox have a starter without a ridiculous name.

redsock said...

Edes' article identifies a number of Manny's teammates who have sucked it up and played through their pain, in a time-honored credo of team sports to themselves and their teammates.

Hey, Yaz, remember back in October 1986 when Bill Buckner "sucked it up and played through [his] pain" and gave a "selfless, courageous effort to help his team win a championship"?

I still get goosebumps when I think about it. That was fucking great. Remember?

Yaz-Tex said...

Hey, Yaz, remember back in October 1986 when Bill Buckner "sucked it up and played through [his] pain" and gave a "selfless, courageous effort to help his team win a championship"?

Yeah, redsock, I remember, and I’m surprised you failed to remember that John F. MacNamara was the architect of that disaster, which had nothing to Buckner’s reputation as a gamer or desire to play through pain.

As many will recall, after a successful stretch run and ALCS where he replaced Buckner with Dave Stapleton at 1B for late-inning defense, MacNamara deviated from the formula and elected to sent Billy High-Tops out for the 9th inning so he could be on the field for the impending post-game celebration.

As a result, Mookie Wilson became a hero, Buckner a goat, MacNamara a bonehead of legendary proportions, and the Mets did the post-game celebrating. Different situation entirely.

Woti-woti said...

Yaz-tex. You say your point was not to question the intelligence of those who play the game--well, mine was. If playing hurt risks further injury, it's stupid. If playing hurt means playing with diminished skills while a lesser-known teammate sits on the bench (or does not get called up from the minors), it's selfish. If players play hurt because they're afraid of losing their jobs--that's a different matter entirely--and maybe the nub of the issue.
The Baun reference probably means you're a Leaf fan (not that there's anything wrong with that). Fan or not, in any sport, when a player is pressured into playing hurt, you have to question the intelligence of management.

Yaz-Tex said...

The Baun reference probably means you're a Leaf fan (not that there's anything wrong with that).

Nope, Woti, a Bruins fan. The Baun story is one known to any hockey fan worth his salt...

As the shit storm rages over the Edes column, what's the over/under on when Greg Genske registers his confirmation or denial? If the latter, it should be tomorrow; if the former, don't hold your breath.

L-girl said...

if Manny's knee is hurting and he wants to sit out the rest of the games after we've spit the bit, so what? I'm not the one paying him, I don't care what he makes. I only care that he helps the Red Sox win, and he has done that better than anyone since he's been in Boston. Better than ANYONE.

That should be all there is to it.

The "litany of sobering facts and truths" are all in Manny's numbers. He's one of the best offensive players of all time. We're lucky to have him.

If jerks in the media and on blogs didn't constantly question his commitment, we wouldn't even know we had a problem!

Listing a bunch of players who managed to succeed in spite of obvious injuries is a worthless exercise. There are dozens more who would have helped their team a lot more if they had said, I'm hurt, and sat out.

Petulant, lazy Manny is an image invented by the media and lapped up by ignorant fans.

The wonder isn't that the media keeps perpetuating this stuff. After all, they have ads to sell. The wonder is that anyone who calls himself a fan buys it.

Who can speak for another man's pain?

Gordon Edes can, apparently.

L-girl said...

They try and try and he still gets standing ovations when he comes to the plate.

Maybe Red Sox fans are smarter than I thought.

L-girl said...

Norm Siebern's comment is very amusing.

Jack Marshall said...

Silly discussion. Courage and stupidity go hand in hand. In 1969, and 1970, Tony Conigliaro played with a hole in his vision that he only admitted years later. Studid? Yes. Courageous? Sure. He hit 30 homers in '70. Curt Schilling, some of you may recall, pitched a play-off and a World Series game with his ankle tendon sewn to his skin. Dumb, dumb dumb. Loused him up for a whole year. Won the damned championship.Hell, Robert Redford hit that home run with his stomach falling apart.

I don't hold it against Manny that he is never going to be Roy Hobbs, Curt Schilling or even Coco Crisp (whom, it would seem, really did hurt the team by playing with a bad finger all year.)He does plenty to help the team without being a martyr too. But don't denegrate the guys who have the guts and character to play hurt either.

Woti-woti said...

Jack, I think the few exceptions prove the rule. Far more guys damage the team by playing with a hurt/injury that diminishes their on-field skills. We're talking about hobbling around on the field for weeks, waiting for the Kirk Gibson moment that never happens. You can debate courage/stupidity/fear forever.

redsock said...

We're talking about hobbling around on the field for weeks, waiting for the Kirk Gibson moment that never happens.

Right. The guys who mention Gibson are the same ones who point to an athletic freak like Nolan Ryan and say pitch counts are for pussies.

L-girl said...

But don't denegrate the guys who have the guts and character to play hurt either.

"Guts and character." That says it all. The belief in the magical chemistry that makes winners. How is that any different from the "mystique and aura" of pinstripes that Schilling so aptly denigrated in 2001?

And you're calling the discussion silly?

Schilling injured himself for the Red Sox's first world championship in 86 years - the prize he was specifically brought in to get. If he was hurt now, today, would it be gutsy and courageous to play hurt? Or just stupid? Cross-ref to Manny.

Jack Marshall said...

With mountains of respect, Laura, that's just nonsense. "Aura and mystique" IS bullshit...Yankee "mystique" is based on the fact that they've outspent the League 2-1 since the 20s. "Guts and character" ARE real, and they DO count, and many, many MANY times injured players make a positive difference, so often that you can't just say they are "exceptions."
Pedro against Cleveland in the play-offs...poor Bill Buckner, who had a pennant-winning September at the plate with the same leggs that failed him in the 1986 series. Carlton Fisk gutting out the pennant stretch in '78 with a cracked rib. DiMaggio for the Yanks in 1949. Hundreds more.

The team DOES react to this stuff; it isn't a myth. In theater, a star who insists on going on with the show despite illness, injury or personal tragedy almost always has the effect of elctrifying the cast; as a director, I don't want actors who beg off every time they feel lousy. Yes, some of the great ones do. Most of the great ones DON'T, in my experience, and I, like most directors AND CAST MEMBERS, prefer to work with them than the other kind.
And if you got Francona and the Sox to be honest about it, I guarantee that they would say they feel the same way.
I have no problem with you guys standing up for Manny...it's noble, loyal and kind. But don't let him push you into untenable positions. Guts and character are assets to any team.

L-girl said...

With small hills of respect Jack, you must be one hell of theatre director.