One of my biggest complaints about NESN's Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy is that they seem content to focus solely on the game that is being played in front of them that night. With the various cable packages and MLBTV, Red Sox fans from all over the world can now follow their team on a daily basis. And because those fans may not have the time (or ability) to access the Boston papers online, I expect Orsillo and Remy to provide something like an in-game version of the beatwriters' notebook articles.
Last night, the NESN duo spoke at length about the Manny Ramirez situation. They spent the better part of the third inning giving us a completely one-sided view of matters. Both men came off very badly, but Remy's comments were especially odious. After assuring us that he was not engaging in Manny-bashing, Remy launched straight into pure Manny-bashing propaganda.
Back on June 22, 2003, L and I listened to Mets reliever Armando Benitez walk four Yankees in the 11th inning and blow the game. John Sterling and Michael Kay, the Yankee radio announcers, ripped Benitez for yet another crappy outing. They were just about laughing at how useless he was. But in a strange twist, about three weeks later, Benitez became a member of the Yankees. Suddenly, Sterling and Kay were talking up the gas can as if he was the reincarnation of Walter Johnson. He was a great pitcher who had simply run into some bad luck. Under orders to talk up the latest Yankee, they dutifully complied.
Last night, Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo were also dutifully playing the part of company men, presenting opinion as fact while admitting at one point that they had no idea if what they were saying was true. They seemed at times to be reading from a script handed down from the front office, in an effort to put a cap on the Manny saga. Or maybe they felt this is what they should say, or maybe they finally felt free to let their prejudices run wild.
They listed Manny's transgressions against his teammates, the Red Sox franchise, even the great game of baseball, while presenting the Red Sox organization as not only blameless, but selfless too, having done so much over the years to make Manny happy. And while laying the blame for this whole mess at Ramirez's feet, they somehow "forgot" to mention John Henry's email to the Herald calling Manny's mid-July comments "obscene" [Note: Henry actually called Manny's comments "personally offensive"; my error] which greatly escalated the matter, and Theo Epstein's uncharacteristic statement to Joe Buck and Tim McCarver that he was trying to trade Manny and that the Fox duo was more than happy to share that information with their national audience.
Added: At one point Orsillo asked Remy if Manny possessed "any respect" for the game. The same man who happily blabs about the idiotic Sox Appeal and speculates at length about what the couples on screen are thinking -- while the game is in progress -- this man is asking about respecting the game. And the guy he's posing the question to is often selling his autographed scorecards and other merchandise during games. Trying to make extra buck while on the job? Is that respecting the game, Jerry?
Remy: Getting back to the Manny situation, which we have to, obviously -- it was impossible for this relationship to continue, in my opinion, and we saw what happened over the last couple of weeks, the way the club responded, and when it trickles down to the players -- that's when you have a real problem. You can have a problem with the manager, you can have a problem with the front office, but when it trickles down to where players lose respect for you, then something has to be done.
When he sat down those two games against Seattle and of course the New York Yankees, that first game against Joba Chamberlain, a lot of that respect was lost by even a lot of his good friends in the clubhouse. And you can imagine -- the last thing I think the Red Sox wanted to do is have to make this deal. I really do. I think they would hope that he'd be able to finish here this year, put up great numbers, and I'm sure there was much discussion -- well, if we keep the guy, is he gonna give us 100% the rest of the year and is he gonna make a contract push. You can never be guaranteed that with Manny. There's nobody in that room that could say Yeah, that's definitely gonna happen. You can't say that because at any point, as we've seen in the past, it could turn around, he could go the other way and go home.
So they had no other option to do but what they did. They gave up a lot, there's no question about that. They gave up a lot to get rid of one guy. But they got a better player than I thought they were going to get - in Jason Bay. I really do.
Orsillo: You could have ended up with nothing, virtually, but it was clear that the need to get rid of him and get him out of town was #1 on the docket.
Remy: The two things that bothered me the most about what Manny did over the last couple of weeks was first of all sitting out on his teammates in those two games. That bothered me. The other thing that bothered me is when he started to put that spin on the front office -- like everybody's against me. I'm going to tell you something. And I've always been a fan of Manny's. But this organization, since he's been here, has bent over backwards, in many, many ways, to make it as comfortable, to put up with a lot of stuff that they didn't need to put up with, so he would just go out and hit and perform and help this team win. Which he did. They won two world championships with him.
But to say those types of things about the organization, I thought, was unfair of Manny because they put up with an awful lot with him and I thought they made every effort that they possibly could to make him as comfortable and as happy as they possibly could to play here in Boston. So those two things irked me the last couple of weeks.
Orsillo: I know there's no question over the last couple of weeks that his teammates have reacted much differently to this situation than in the past.
Remy: You're exactly right. And over the last few days, Francona had been calling in veteran players to get their feel, I think, on how they would feel if he would leave or if they would want him to stay, that's just my -- I don't know what goes on behind closed doors, but you can only guess when you see veterans going into, prior to a trade deadline, into his office. So I think they were getting input from everybody and I really honestly think the players feel we're better off without this aggravation, because first of all, he sits down on them, then after that, they have to answer questions on stuff that he's saying. They don't want to deal with that.
Orsillo: I think there's very little doubt that he was coming back here next year, and that they were going to pick up his option at that point either.
Remy: No. So you're weighing -- is this guy the type of guy who is, he's so angry that for two months he's gonna play like crazy for a new contract -- you can't be guaranteed that with Manny. And I think that was the major issue that finally -- you got to move him, he's got to go now. And -- the Manny era is over. And I gotta tell you, for me personally, I liked him. In our job, he was entertaining to watch.
Remy: He annoyed me when he didn't run out balls [laughs], when he became lazy and didn't do things. But to watch him hit every day was certainly a pleasure. And also, you never knew what to expect from the guy.
Orsillo: I wanted to ask you about that because I know how much you respect the game and respected the game as a player. There are those who say that Manny has zero respect for the game. Your thoughts on that -- and did he have respect for the game that we did perhaps not see?
Remy: Yeah, I think he has respect for the game. But he didn't show it on the field all the time. When you -- a good example was the other night. That's just one example of not running a ball out, in the no-hitter. There have been many of those over the years. But sometimes you put up with that stuff because he could hit the bomb for you, he could drive in -- he put up great numbers. And there was a lot of things they tolerated that they would not have tolerated with anybody with less ability or with a guy that you never knew from day to day, if you get on the guy, suspend him, do you lose him?
Remy: All of a sudden, does his knee hurt and does he go home? So, you know, it's like a large cloud that's been removed from this whole organization, I think, and I really think in the clubhouse today, it had to be a much better feeling going in there knowing you don't have to deal with this. Now I'm not gonna Manny-bash. I'm not going to do it, because I totally enjoyed my time in this job watching him doing his job when he did it the right way. But the time was now. It was enough.
Orsillo: No question.
Remy: The last two weeks was disgusting and I tell you, Don, it surprised me, because coming into spring training, he had, in my opinion, the best attitude I've ever seen him have for three months of this season and --
Orsillo: It switched in a hurry.
Remy: What switched, I have no clue. But it went bad, and it went bad quickly.
Orsillo: Perhaps he thought that maybe before the break, they would take care of him or it would be dealt with at some point early in the season, maybe that's when it didn't happen and all of a sudden --
Remy: Well, those are the things we don't know. Those are the things we don't know. But what we do know is what's happened here over the last couple of weeks, you couldn't go on that way. And you couldn't flip the coin and say maybe he's gonna do well after this. You just couldn't say that because you don't know.
Orsillo: The Red Sox did give up a lot, we've lost Brandon Moss, we've lost Craig Hansen. And Jerry, I thought heading into the trade deadline, the real need they had perhaps was going to be in the bullpen and they ended up kind of losing a guy from the bullpen that had been out there on a regular basis, good or bad.
Remy: Well, a guy that has been very inconsistent, yes, and I'm sure they tried -- Theo Epstein as a matter of fact said today that they were trying to do something out in the bullpen but the fact is the right deal was not out there. And this Manny thing was so consuming.
Remy: I mean all-consuming, and many members of the organization, I'm sure, had to have input on this, do we take the chance, do we not take the chance. [Francona on screen] I'm telling you right now, this guy is the happiest guy in the world.
Orsillo: Most relieved man in the world.
Remy: He really is -- because at times he made life miserable for him, totally miserable, and right now he's in a much better place than he was two days ago. There's no question about that. Now, will the end result be better? We'll see. Time's gonna tell.
Orsillo: I guess that's the real big question. Are the Red Sox better today than they were yesterday?
Remy: They may not be today, but maybe they will be a week from now, or two weeks. We'll see. ... I mean I like the guy, I really do. He was entertaining as heck, he's a great ballplayer -- a great hitter, I should say -- and I will miss him. But I didn't have to manage him or be his teammate.
Orsillo: No. You might not have liked him as much. ...
Remy: One thing he did do is he provided us with reels and reels of entertainment in his tenure here with the Red Sox. There's no question about that. Positive and negative.
Orsillo: Seven and half seasons in a Red Sox uniform and none of them were boring.
Remy: Not a day was boring.
Orsillo: It will be interesting to watch on the other side, how he and Joe Torre get along in Los Angeles and how that all takes place. I mean, Manny has always been a guy who needs to be comfortable. We heard it all in the first, what, three years, here in Boston that he had to be comfortable after being in Cleveland. Well, how comfortable is he going to be in Los Angeles the last two months of the year? ... Not our problem ... [end of half inning]
[Then, with one out in the bottom of the third]
Heidi Watney: "I spoke with a lot of guys in the clubhouse today and they all agree it was time for the team to move on and for Manny Ramirez to go. Team captain Jason Varitek said you'll never be able to replace Manny, but now the team can move forward as a team.
Varitek (on video): Well, I mean, some of us have been a part of this for about eight years now and, uh, surprised? Yeah, because he's, he brings an offense that, you know, you can't replace with anybody or expect somebody to replace it, but you know the cards were kind of left in his hands a little bit, where he, he, he made it, you know, to a point where, uh, they had to -- to get rid of him.
Watney: Now Jason told me that Terry Francona stressed the importance of moving forward as a team in the meeting this afternoon and Terry Francona told me he was just excited to address the team and excited to put all of this behind them.
Orsillo: Okay, thank you very much, Heidi. .... Jerry, I want to ask you how distracting it is from a team standpoint I guess it would come from the reporters and writers asking everybody else, you have to answer for Manny, since Manny's not going to talk to the media, for the most part, during those situations and it seems that's how the players were affected because they're always having to answer for Manny in that situation.
Remy: Well, in this last situation, Manny was doing the talking and then they had to get responses from the players -- and the players get tired of it. You got your own job that you have to do and worry about up there, the manager obviously has to take care of the whole club, but individually you've got a job to do and you don't want to be answering questions that have no relevance to you at all. You can't get into the head of what somebody else is thinking, and why he's saying things ... I told you, Don, last week, that I spoke with him briefly in the clubhouse and he was dead set, he's said these things before, but I left with the feeling that he definitely wanted out of this place and he gave them no other option but to get him out of here. And it's done. It's over. And as you say, you move forward and you see what happens.