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

Will Shaughnessy apologize?

Dan Shaughnessy on Wednesday:

It’s always a story when Manny takes a day or two to rest his hammy. During Ramirez’s spectacular six-year stint with the Red Sox, he annually misses a few games with a sore hamstring. It works every time, because when it comes to tweaked hamstrings, only the patient truly knows how he’s feeling. It’s the athlete’s equivalent of the fourth grade boy who won’t go to school because he has a headache. There are no grounds for a challenge even if you have suspicions.

Gordon Edes today:

Ramírez will undergo tests this morning, including an MRI, said manager Terry Francona, who did not have much detail to offer on the condition of Ramírez’s knee but looked and sounded concerned that this may be more than a minor tweak. Indeed, it raised the possibility that a Baseball Prospectus website report by Will Carroll that surfaced during the All-Star break, that Ramírez has been playing with a small tear in his meniscus — the same injury that has sidelined catcher Jason Varitek — will be proven correct.


Tony Massarotti gets the final word:He is human, despite our perception of him, and so you cannot help but wonder: How many times is Manny Ramirez left shaking his head? How many runs must he knock in and how many home runs must he hit before we start to see Ramirez as a man who is needlessly banging his head against the wall?”

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Swimming across the line


Debate wars


  1. Man Who's a Sox Fan

    Except Manny’s not really human, anymore. That’s the price you pay to be a “legend” these days. Reality stops mattering, and perception becomes everything. If Manny’s tired of banging his head against the wall, he’s got one option and only one: retirement. Get out of the game, go live on a deserted island somewhere for 10 years until people forget you, and then have a very quiet existence from them out.Despite his appearance of “dogging it” I do think Manny’s got a real competitive streak in him; I’m sure retirement would not easy to him (or any pro athlete). And I imagine he’d be almost as unhappy going to play for a team that had no real shot of making the playoffs each year, even if it meant a lot less fan pressure. So that’s probably why he’s still banging his head against that proverbial wall. Still…this has a lot of ties to my chief annoyance with professional sports these days – athletes (and team management) griping about overzealous fans. Let’s break it down folks – if you’re getting paid millions of dollars to play, the only way that happens is if the team that hires you creates a fan base so rabid they’ll pay any amount – no matter how outrageous – for tickets to the games. And for merchandise. And for cable TV fees to watch the games. So don’t give me this bullshit about how you’re disappointed about how out of control the fans in Red Sox Nation are…not after you’ve got waaaa-aaaay out of your way to create, nuture and encourage that insanity.Keeping that in mind, I feel about zero sympathy for Manny because he’s “playing hurt”. He’s goddamn well paid to get his ass out there and entertain me by getting his goddamn team into the playoffs. He’s sold his soul to baseball long ago – he ought to know that the Devil always collects.

  2. whispers

    Anybody who thinks Manny dogs it should take a serious look at his numbers. Over a 13-year career, he has an OPS over 1.000. He averages 42 HRs and 136 RBIs per 162 games. He’s played over 150 games each of the past three seasons. That’s dogging it? Trot Nixon would love to have those numbers, and you _never_ hear anybody say that Nixon is dogging it. Of course, Nixon’s white, and “lazy” is never used to describe white players. Manny’s also been a great post-season contributor, unlike a lot of sluggers. (See ARod, for starters.) Shaughnessy’s an ass, and always has been. His primary trick is to belittle professional athletes and to try to sow division in clubhouses. I cannot recall him every showing the kind of insight into how the game is played that I’ve seen from Peter Gammons or Bob Ryan. When I was a kid, the Globe had the best sports writers anywhere. Too bad that tradition is dying. When all is said and done, Manny Ramirez is on his way to a first-ballot Hall of Fame career. He’s been a hitting savant in the steroid era, and has never had even a whiff of the steroid scandal about him. He’s just the best all-around hitter in the game.

  3. Anonymous

    The problem, Dan, is that Manny might be the Boy Who Cried Wolf here. He does have a history of using hamstring injuries as an excuse not to play, and it’s not a terribly well-kept secret in that clubhouse and front office. Now that he might be legitimately injured, people are inclined not to believe him because of his past and the circumstances of his leaving on Monday (the official-scorer brouhaha which was leaked to Sean McAdam). The chickens came home to roost, I guess.

  4. Dan Kennedy

    Manny has a history of actual hamstring injuries. Is it an excuse to try to rest them from time to time? Look, I’m not the world’s biggest Manny fan, and I’d have traded him for Tejada in a heartbeat. (Which may or may not have been a good move.) But come on.

  5. mas adelante

    I have to laugh at fans like “man who’s a sox fan” who think players should play hurt because they make a lot of money. Oh really? And what happens if they play hurt and get seriously injured and all of a sudden management is getting nothing on their $20 million-per-season investment?Whispers nailed it about Nixon. Nixon makes more boneheaded plays in the field than Manny, but Trot is white, has pine tar on his helmet and tells reporters what they want to hear, so no one holds him to it. He also nailed the part about Shaughnessy never actually imparting any wisdom about the game in his columns.And all the Manny hysteria ignores that he’s actually played more games than any Sox position player over the past several years, which makes it all the more ridiculous when the same reporters flog the same wheezing, dying horse every time Manny misses a game.

  6. Dan Kennedy

    Trot plays hard (if not always smart) on the field, but I think we can all agree that his conditioning off the field leaves something to be desired. And he’s never been held to account for it.

  7. mike_b1

    Or he might just be injury-prone. Some players are.

  8. Dan Kennedy

    Mike — A couple of years ago — maybe not so much now — Trot looked like he’d spent the off-season entering (and winning) pie-eating contests. The athlete in that family is his wife.

  9. Anonymous

    Dan, read this story from March. There’s a reason people were/are suspicious that Ramirez was faking.

  10. Mike from Norwell

    Hey Anonymous:Can’t quite get that link to work. Of course, I’m a little curious what that hotbed of RedSox Nation, Enid Oklahoma, can bring to the table that the Globe, Herald, SOSH, et al missed?

  11. Man who's a sox fan

    Well granted the Sox have some issues with multi-million investments going belly-up thanks to injuries…either physical or mental (Foulke, Clement, Wells, Varitek, etc etc etc). Your point is well-taken that if a player is injured, they should be getting medical treatment and (depending on the injury) it would be far better for them to take time off.But you’re ducking the issue that Manny is paid out the ass not to play baseball, but to be an entertainer. Anyone can “play baseball” in the local town after-work league or whatever. Manny (and Nixon) get their money because they keep Joe Sixpack paying the ticket prices, and the cable bills, and the merchandise fees, etc. Remember John Kruk’s famous line? Anyways, if the fan expectation is that Manny’s “dogging it”, then he’s not entertaining us. I can’t say with any certainty that race is an issue…although in a racist town like Boston, I’d be mighty inclined to agree with you.It’s not much different than Tom Cruise getting dropped by Paramount because he’s not living up to the image they were paying him millions to project. Mind you, both examples are where the expectations are very potentially unfair. But again, I say that’s the price you pay for being rich and famous…it’s having unfair expectations of you.Let’s turn this around a bit, and this is where my lack of knowledge of stats may come around and bite me…but haven’t Papi’s statistics been waaaay down this year? Granted he’s smacking out home runs, and has the uncanny ability to hit in the clutch. But last night I heard Remdawg say the “overshift” in the outfield has robbed him of at least 20 hits and I think that’s underestimating things. That’s a huge blow to the production of the team if Ortiz can’t get hits to get on base (or get RBI’s).Yet Papi is still very popular. Why? Because he DOES do things that are very entertaining. He’s leading the AL in home runs. He’s got that clutch hit going for it. And he’s got a perception of a hard work ethic while still having fun in the dugout. All things that play well to the fan base and keep ’em entertained. Most importantly, for whatever reason Ortiz’s contract never became the topic du jour for an entire season of speculation like Manny’s did.

  12. Dan Kennedy

    Sox Fan — Manny does dog it sometimes, and he’s very popular with the fans (as opposed to the media or Sox management). How do you explain that?

  13. mike_b1

    Ortiz is hitting 4 points above his career average and 13-14 points below his 2004-05 numbers. Ortiz was hitting .259 in mid June and since teams have been pulling the shift on him all season, it doesn’t add up that the shift is affecting him. His other numbers .401 OBP/.633 slugging are above last year’s. He is having an outstanding season.Remy is great on in-game observations. He pulled that 20 hits number out of his a**, however. Add 20 hits to Papi’s average and he would be at .329, 28 points above his season high. Not likely.

  14. Steve

    All I gotta say about Manny is that we knew we weren’t getting more than 150 games a year out of him when we signed him. And that’s fine with me. We have a guy putting up .300/.400/.600 year after year after year. He’s 34. But I think he’s a young 34 all things considered. So far, he’s as durable as he’s always been.

  15. whispers

    Man, this is funny:”All I gotta say about Manny is that we knew we weren’t getting more than 150 games a year out of him when we signed him.”2003: 154 games2004: 152 games2005: 152 gamesall-righty then!Manny’s played more games in a Red Sox uniform for the past three years than anybody else! Some myths are really quite hard to puncture!

  16. Anonymous

    The Enid News story was actually one they picked up from the Eagle-Tribune (owned by the same company). Sorry the link didn’t work. Here’s the money quote, from Ramirez’s personal trainer, at the end of a Rob Bradford story praising Ramirez’s offseason training regimen:“The first thing one has to notice was when Manny was with the Indians he had hamstring issues,” Santana said. “We took our approach to rehabilitating the hamstrings and training the hamstrings. Since then, he hasn’t had hamstring issues, ever. There have been a few times that the media has said he has had it, so I would call (former Sox trainer) Chris Correnti and say, ‘What’s up bro? I sent you a Ferrari. Don’t tell me you have a Volkswagen with a flat.’ He said, ‘No, no man. Every time he needs a little time off he blames the hamstring, but he’s perfectly healthy. It’s all good.’ “

  17. Anonymous

    Just checking back in on this topic – I saw Shaughnessy on one of the late evening weekend sports roundup shows (I think it was channel 7) just days ago, still pushing the idea that Manny has decided to pack it in and quit for the season. Then, there was Manny last night, smacking a double down the right field line in his first at-bat.

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