July 31, 2008

Manny You loved him or you were frustrated by him – or both. But there’s no doubt that the eight-year reign of Mannymania in Boston was eventful and a successful one, even if at the end the team had to pay dearly to have the L.A. Dodgers take him off their hands. Rather than writing my own essay about Manny, I’ll let two others do the talking – both of whom who express their sentiments far better than I ever could.

First, this rather sentimental commentary by one Wolfe Coleman, a commenter at the Boston Dirt Dogs website:

“Given the recent trend of success that we in Red Sox Nation have been blessed with, I hope we do not all forget the journey we have taken to get here, and specifically, the role of Manny Ramirez in that journey.

“He came to us at the last second, when we had missed out on Mussina and needed to make a splash. The kid from Cleveland with the picture perfect swing, who smiled like a Little Leaguer when he played. That was our Manny. We embraced him, we cheered for him, we placed our hopes for the future in his able hands. And he delivered for us, time and time again. In the wake of all that has happened, let us not forget that Manny gave us hope when there little to be had. When a history of near misses and complete failures weighed so heavy on us that we thought we were destined for a lifetime of misery. When the Yankees were an unstoppable force that could not be reckoned with. In the face of all these things, we had Manny. Suddenly, nothing was impossible. We had Manny. There was possibility! Because we had Manny, there was always a chance.

“True, he has not always played the game the right way, and it can be argued that his attitude was sometimes less than helpful to the team chemistry, but through all the drama he never lost that swing. It remained a thing of grace of beauty to be admired and copied by a generation of young fans. And he never lost the enjoyment of the game. While he may have been dissatisfied with the front office or the management, he never stopped loving the game. There were always moments when you could see in Manny the same kid that hauled tires up hills in Washington Heights, building his core strength so he could drive the ball 420ft. to the opposite field.

“When he watched his home run off K-Rod in the 2007 post season, arms raised in triumph, we saw that same Manny that we fell in love with. Now that his time has come to move on, for whatever reason, I hope that we do not lose sight of everything he has done for us, and when we speak of him and his time in Boston, I hope we all realize what we owe to him. For the home runs, the laughs, the championships, the intangible sense of excitement that happened every time he came to bat in the late innings at Fenway; we owe him more than to think back fondly on his time here, we owe him our hearts.”

Of course, there were always two sides to the Manny coin, and the the Providence Journal’s Sean McAdam offers this sobering assessment of what the Red Sox ended up having to do to bring the Manny era in Boston to a close:

In order to trade a future Hall of Famer and acquire a player in return, the Red Sox had to agree to pay his remaining salary and include two young players.

That should tell you all you all you need to know about Manny Ramirez’s value around the game and exactly how desperate the Red Sox were to rid themselves of his presence by yesterday’s non-waiver trading deadline.

After 18 hours worth of talks involving the Florida Marlins and Pittsburgh Pirates proved futile, the Red Sox scrambled to assemble another swap at the 11th hour and finally found a willing partner in the Los Angeles Dodgers.

General manager Theo Epstein was working with a mandate from within his own clubhouse. Following his team’s dispiriting loss to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Wednesday night, Epstein met with a handful of Red Sox veterans, all of whom delivered the same message: Manny had to go.

If his antics weren’t directly responsible for the team’s slide – the Sox have lost five of six on the current homestand, their worst stretch of play at Fenway all season – they were certainly serving as a distraction.

Worse, the players feared that if Ramirez remained with the Sox for the remainder of the season, he couldn’t be counted upon in the middle of a pennant race. In their minds, there were no guarantees that Ramirez wouldn’t engage in further petulant displays that could sidetrack the team’s playoff push.

In the past, teammates had advised against just such a deal, reminding management that, whatever his faults, Ramirez’s skill as a run producer were too valuable. But in the last week or so, Ramirez lost the clubhouse and the equation was turned on its head: no matter how good he was as a hitter, it wasn’t enough to outweigh the negatives.

They were tired of answering questions about him, tired of rationalizing his selfish behavior, and frankly, tired of him.

Read the whole thing.

So now it’s back to business for the stumbling Sox. They can’t look or play any worse than they did against the L.A. Angels of Anaheim, and now with manny in La-La Land they certainly have no one else to blame their on-field performances on than themselves.

If they needed a wake-up call, the Ramirez trade certainly took care of that.

Of course, if that doesn’t work, then this wonderful post from Red at Surviving Grady ought to be required reading for everyone on the team. The language is a little harsh, but no one says it better than Red. It’s a scream – literally!

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 19:11 | Comments (0)
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