By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Media being media

Mark Jurkowitz has an entertaining item on the past week’s contretemps over Manny being Manny. But something doesn’t set right with me over this. As Mark observes, Ramírez’s annual freakout “is tiresome and relatively inconsequential.”

Which is why part of me feels as though the local sports media were complicit in a fairly transparent attempt by ownership to run the oddball slugger out of town. Fortunately, the owners themselves pulled back when they realized they’d have had to give up too much.

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  1. Steve

    I think I have to disagree with you here about the Boston sports media and the Manny story – it depends on what media behavior you mean.Do you mean the media behavior just prior to the flap – the behavior Manny “cited” (or imagined) that caused him to believe his privacy was threatened? If so, I can’t judge – I didn’t pay attention to that part.If you mean the fanning of the “dump Manny” flames last week, though, I disagree. The media was following a legitimate story there. Sports fans here will always react harshly when a manager tells a highly paid player “Play!” and the player says “No!”. It’s the ultimate expression of Manny dogging it – the team needed him to fill a slot because of injuries, and that should have precedence over his “day off”.When Manny came here, I was resigned to the fact that he would play only 140 or so games a year. That was his history, but that was because of injuries. If he’s healthy and won’t answer the bell, then I’m upset, and the Boston sports media is upset, with good reason.So I fail to see how this media behavior makes them “complicit”. They’re just following a legitimate story.(I have to add, though, that there are many facets of Manny I just flat-out love. His talent, of course. But almost more than that, I love the joy with which he plays the game, and for that I’ll forgive the mental lapses on the basepaths and occasionally in the field. I just wish he’d have played when Nixon went down, and the manager said “I need you”.)

  2. Anonymous

    This story — if that’s what we want to call it — was a classic case of the Boston sportswriters thinking they are bigger than the sport they cover. And then going out and proving it.Consider: A player (never mind who) gets a little anxious/stressed and wants to gets out from under the pressure. The media cry foul and jump him relentlessly, in essence comparing a man who wears white pants and a glove on one hand to work to the biggest traitor these parts have seen since Benedict Arnold gave his recipe for eggs to the British. Never mind that these same beacons of goodness cheat on their wives and taxes, drink on the job, “mail in” clumsy and poorly written and sourced columns, capitalize on inside information, double-dip by reporting the same news through multiple (paying) outlets. They probably go home and beat their dogs, too. But never mind that: we’ve got an English-as-a-second-language minority baseball player to throw under the bus. The utter hypocrisy! In the process the media (again) become the story. It again begs the question, why is it that sports opinion writers and reporters wear the same hat when the rest of journalism lives by a different set of rules?What folly.Mike_B

  3. Steve

    Some quibbles with you, Mike.That “bash the ESL ballplayer” remark is a cheap shot, and inaccurate. Wade Boggs, Jim Rice, Ted Williams, et al got the same treatment. The common denominator is their star status. No one’s going to care if Alex Cora throws a hissy fit.And here, on a media criticism site, journalists *are* the story. In the real world, I never got the feeling that the media coverage was greater than the story in this case (Mark J’s and Dan’s comments notwithstanding).

  4. Anonymous

    I agree that journalists are the story on this site. But in the news-gathering world, they aren’t supposed to be. Yet in Boston, that “rule” is not only ignored, the dismissing of it is flaunted. And the things they got wrong! Gordon Edes reported yesterday on p. D6 (jumped from the A1 story) that “the suggestion, made by [Sox president Larry] Lucchino on his weekly radio appearance on WEEI, that Ramirez’s actions might be calculated to provoke a trade.” I heard that interview live and then the replay last Sat. a.m. and would have sworn that it was the hosts, notLucchino, who suggested Manny’s actions might be calculated. And Lucchino’s response (I’m paraphrasing)was he had no clue as to what was behind it. I guess we hear what we want to hear. Let’s see if they print a correction.Interesting comment about Alex Cora. Just a few weeks back, just-as-useless utility player Jay Payton did just that and the writers tripped over themselves trying to learn more about it. So I might have to disagree with you on that.Ironically, considering how they blew their wads on Payton, I shouldn’t be surprised at how they went after Manny. Personally, I think a player asking for a trade for the fourth time in as many years is as much of a story as the Dedham Kwikie Mart getting held up again: We grow to expect it. I’m gauging the media response to the MR “trade” by the number of writers and column inches exhausted on it (and in some cases, fury; see Edes, Gordon). (The airwaves were full of it, too.) I would guess that in the Boggs, Rice and Williams era, sports coverage was not as big a part of the paper; in my own casual reading I have come across various accounts revealing just how little attention was being paid; Maris’ 61st homer, for instance.And while you may have a point about Rice and Boggs (sorry, I didn’t live here when they were playing, and wasn’t alive when Williams played), take a closer look at the language used to describe Pedro and Manny: prima donnas, a horribly derogatory phrase. That seems to be an effeminate term reserved for Latino ballplayers. What’s the worst they said about Boggs or Rice? That they weren’t team players? Mike_B

  5. Steve

    Oh, Rice and Boggs were both called “prima donnas” (and worse). Don’t know about Latinos react to that phrase, but it’s really not uncommon, especially for players making more than 10% of the payroll who don’t obey all the “unwritten” rules of baseball.Rice’s case (and Williams’s too, I guess) is a bit different. I don’t ever recall them “dogging” it. They ust were in bad odor in the press for being mean – to the press. That was their only transgression, as far as I can recall.Are you old enough to remember Clemens refusing to carry his own bags, and all the fuss that caused? I’m virtually certain the phrase “prima donna” (among other choice sobriquets) was used in relation to that incident.

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