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

If Manny stays, I hope he plays

Both the Globe and the Herald report today that it looks like Manny Ramírez will be back in a Red Sox uniform next year. Well, break out the Champagne. Having Julio Lugo, Coco Crisp, David Ortiz, Manny and J.D. Drew batting one through five sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

But what, really, is the deal with Manny? He did, after all, stop playing for the last six weeks of the season in 2006. I’m prepared to believe that he’s a semi-mature adult, which means that I have to assume he was, indeed, too hurt to play. OK, then. Has he healed? Is he rehabbing? Does he need surgery? Will he be gone by Memorial Day when his knee problems come back?

Fans who defend Ramírez forget that last year was not like any other year. He didn’t just take a few days off under mysterious circumstances. He stopped playing. That was different — and scary for Red Sox fans.

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22 Comments

  1. man who's a red sox fan

    Well hell, Dan…Manny wasn’t the only one who stopped playing!Based on what happened in August and September, I’d say half the team “stopped playing”. So I don’t entirely blame Manny if he stopped giving a damn. Although if he did I think it was selfish and foolish, but I still can’t exactly blame a guy for not giving his all when he knows it won’t make a damn bit of difference and might get himself hurt.

  2. Anonymous

    DanYou bring a healthy skepticism to everything you write, except about the Red Sox and local coverage of the team. I expect it from all-but-unpaid employees of their PR department such as Cafardo and Edes, as well as from ever-forgiving fans such as Mike, but I do not expect it from you. Let’s put Manny aside for the moment and consider yesterday’s news.In July, Theo said that the Red Sox were not the Yankees and were not willing to spend the equivalent of $27M over two years for a right fielder. Four months later, they are willing to pay $70M over five years for one. And the one they got is not as good or durable a player, nor as tough a competitor, as Bobby Abreu. Try this quick summary from Jerry Crasnick, an ESPN writer with no axe to grind:”On paper, this might be the worst union of star and town since Paris Hilton dropped into Altus, Ark., for a reality show paycheck. Drew’s roots go back to Hahira, Ga., a one-yellow-caution-light town known primarily for its Honey Bee festival. Very soon, he’ll enter a world of short-tempered waitresses, middle fingers at traffic intersections and dissection by radio talk-show caller.”What I do not understand is so many people’s willingness to tolerate this kind of spinning and manipulation. Yes, it’s only baseball, but it’s also a question of business and media responsibility. And it follows the contortions so many performed to rationalize the Matsuzaka deal.

  3. Anonymous

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/news/2003/0501/1547624.htmlI'm just curious why all of a sudden the Globe is burying the fact Julio Lugo is an alleged wife-beater?Wil Cordero was practically run out of town by a lynch mob; Bob Kraft caught so much heat for draftee Christian Peter they had to get rid of him before he ever suited up, but now that the Globe’s parent company owns 17% of the Sox, domestic violence just gets buried deep in the story and blown off with no further comment. Pathetic.

  4. mike_b1

    “Ever forgiving?” No.Pragmatic and data-driven? Yes.Even if you think Manny was dogging it, what good does it do to scream bloody murder about it? None. Manny doesn’t read the Globe or your blogs or listen to talk radio. So you solve nothing. And Manny in 130 games produces more than all but a handful of players in 162. You can have your Trot Nixons. Give me the guys who can play. (Yeah, I’d take Bonds too.)

  5. Dan Kennedy

    But Mike: Can Manny play next year? We don’t know.

  6. Anonymous

    Huh? (Regarding your 6:25). We don’t know what? Manny’s a horse. He’s had tweaks, but he can play another few years if he wants to. And after that, make him a DL.

  7. mike_b1

    I have yet to hear anyone from Boston’s vaunted press ask Theo, Francona et al the question. It’s much easier to take shots than to do actual reporting.But I would say yes, Manny is/will be OK to play, based on the way that teams are trying to get him. If the meniscus was indeed torn, that can heal on its own. Just ask my 70-year-old mom.

  8. amusedbutinformedobserver

    The trouble with the blogger worls and wiki-this-that-and-whatnot is its propensity to spread untruth and the lack of editors to force compliance with simple precepts of integrity.Lugo is not only entitled to the presumption of innocence, he was found not guilty.http://espn.go.com/mlb/news/2003/0716/1581601.htmlBut let’s not let the facts get in the way of a good cheap shot at the Globe and Times. That’s the blogger way.

  9. Anonymous

    Why does so much of the coverage of Manny’s performance last year complete discard the possibility that his non-performance was injury-driven. Why do so many people fall in line with Shaughnessy’s smear that Manny “quit on his team”?A related question: this bit could also apply to Jon Lester.”He didn’t just take a few days off under mysterious circumstances. He stopped playing. That was different — and scary for Red Sox fans.”So, where’s the post “If Lester stays, I hope he plays”?

  10. Dan Kennedy

    Amused: On Media Nation, it isn’t the blogger way … unfortunately, it is the anonymous commenter way.Whispers: You’re right about Manny, but your Jon Lester analogy is bizarre. And I’ll stick with my prediction for Lester: Opening Day pitcher, 2008. He can’t rush it. We’d be crazy to expect much from him in ’07. Maybe after the All-Star break?

  11. Anonymous

    In my day, we pitched with cancer, 9 innings two days out of three. You kids today are crap!

  12. Anonymous

    Of course, the Globe didn’t afford the presumption of innocence to Brett Myers of the Phillies this summer:http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/articles/2006/06/25/phillies_should_have_stopped_myerss_start/Never mind the charges were later dropped. But Myers didn’t play for Team 17%, so it’s OK to rip away at him.Perhaps amused should change his or her name to amusedbutselectivelyinformed or amusedandinformedbutdeliberatelyobtuse. Either way it is funny that someone going by such a name would rip on someone else for anonymity.

  13. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 2:10: The fact that there were witnesses to the Brett Myers incident means nothing to you? I know nothing about Lugo’s situation, but I do know I’m pretty unimpressed with the fact that the charges against Myers were dropped.

  14. Anonymous

    C’mon Dan. Don’t straddle the issue here. Either Manny was faking his injury or not. If you have any reason to think he was, say why. If not, I think he deserves as much breathing room as Dan Lester does. Both are Red Sox players who could not perform to their highest level due to medical conditions beyond their control. Period.Incidentally, searching the archives for recent news about Manny’s injury I saw (via Google) that the Globe website had an article posted on 12/5 defending him and saying he’d gotten a “bad rap”. Bizarrely, I cannot find this article at theirsite. Did anybody see this article? Anybody know why the Globe yanked it?

  15. Dan Kennedy

    Whispers: I’m sure Manny was hurt. Perhaps he was hurt so badly he couldn’t play. But unless you believe Gordon Edes writes fiction — and if you do, there’s no point in trying to have a discussion with you — then you have to take stuff like this into account:”His teammates? You have to distinguish what is said about him publicly and to him behind closed doors. There have been teammates who have challenged Ramírez in the clubhouse, and his response has been studied indifference. As one player told me, what’s the point of calling him out publicly? What would get accomplished? Embarrass him? Please.”It’s too bad Edes couldn’t quote anyone on the record, but that doesn’t mean he’s got it wrong. What I see is a good reporter trying to get what he knows out before the public without burning his sources. It ain’t pretty, but only a conspiracy theorist would think Edes is making it up.Now, maybe Manny’s teammates are out of line. After all, Curt Schilling was apparently giving Scott Williamson a hard time when the kid needed Tommy John surgery. But Manny’s teammates’ views have to be taken into account. It’s not “straddling the issue” to state an objective fact: We don’t know whether Manny was injured so seriously that he couldn’t play, and we do know that some of his teammates thought he could play.And you think he deserves as much “breathing room” as a guy with cancer? Wow.

  16. Anonymous

    http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2690444We have David Ortiz on the record saying he wants Manny on the Red Sox. Again. Like he says every time these rumors come up.On the other hand, we always hear second or third hand through “sources” that the Sox players are sick of Manny, rarely if ever directly from the players themselves.And that, in a nutshell, is why the fans don’t believe the Knights of the Keyboard and tend to side with Manny.

  17. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 10:31: As a reporter who’s had sources tell him one thing not for attribution and another thing, to another reporter, on the record, I am amused by your naive assessment. Gordon Edes’ report was not second- or third-hand. Either some players (we don’t know who, so why drag Ortiz into it?) have been telling him about their doubts regarding Manny, or Edes has been making it up. There is no middle ground here. Are you accusing Edes of writing fiction? What is your evidence?

  18. Steve

    Dan – Sportswriters write fiction all the time. Well, usually they’re just faithfully reporting the fiction someone else has fed them. I haven’t really trusted Edes’s reporting since he ran a big story about how Mo Vaughn was all signed and sealed for another 4 years in Boston for $56M. Of course, 3 days later Mo was gone. But that happens to sportswriters all the time.Now, I haven’t heard players first-hand saying that they’re “sick” of Manny. But Anon 10:31 – I did hear Curt Schilling (who else?) rapping Manny for laying down in September. Curt himself, not someone reporting what Curt said. (Aside – what ever happened to “what goes on in the locker room stays in the locker room”? I know Curt is outspoken, but it used to be a BIG taboo to talk about teammates this way.)My take on Manny ’06 is this – he was hurting progressively worse from June on. But he was playing and the Red Sox were winning, so it was fun enough to keep him in the game. After the All-Star break, Manny was on a tear. But the pitching was thin and getting thinner. And then August happened. The front office hadn’t reacted to the pitching situation. The Sox went from 21 games above to 9 games above, with embarrassing series against Tampa and KC even before the Yankees debacle. By then, it wasn’t so fun to be Manny. He was hurting more, he was still putting up the numbers, but the team was out of it. So he sat himself down.August wasn’t Manny’s fault. Yes, players getting $18+M/yr shouldn’t quit and should play through some pain, but it wouldn’t have gotten us into the post-season.So will Manny play next year? My guess is “absolutely”, especially if the front office shows some commitment. So far this off-season, they have. If the Sox are winning, playing is fun, and Manny loves having fun. And a happy Manny is a very very good ballplayer.

  19. Dan Kennedy

    Steve: There is a great line in “All the President’s Men” in which Jason Robards says something like, “The truth? We don’t report the truth. We report what people tell us.” It is an occupational hazard, and it is most definitely not writing fiction. You try to verify it as best you can, but it doesn’t always work out.However, there is a world of difference between someone in the front office lying to you about signing this or that player, and a player or players giving you not-for-attribution stuff about what they think of a teammate who isn’t playing. If a member of the Red Sox tells Edes, “Don’t quote me on this, but we all know Manny could play if he really wanted to,” is there any chance in the world that he really means the opposite? Of course not. So again, Edes is either making it up or he isn’t. And if anyone thinks he is, what’s your evidence?In fact, Steve, you dug up on-the-record stuff from Schilling, who does have an unfortunate history of blurting out such things. But he is a named source to buttress Edes’ unnamed sources. I don’t know how anyone can seriously deny that at least some of Manny’s teammates thought he laid down and died on them last year. And please take note of what I’m saying — I’m not saying Manny did lay down and die. I have no way of knowing that.

  20. mike_b1

    Ex Phillies GM on Curt Schilling: “He’s a horse every fifth day and a horse’s ass the other four.”While I think Edes is falling into the pit of reporting gossip that seems to envelope all Boston media sooner or later, I also think Schilling lacks that all-important frontal lobe. About the same time he was calling out Manny on ‘EEI, he was apologizing to JD Drew for having trashed him for refusing to sign with the Phillies.Gotta consider the source.

  21. anon 10:31

    Fly off the handle much Dan? You’re saying I accused Godron Edes of making things up, and I never even mentioned Edes by name. But since YOU mention it, considering the Mo story above and the one last winter about Epstein re-siging for three years that ran a day or two before he snuck out of Fenway in a gorilla suit, then no, I don’t think he makes things up, but nor do I blindly trust his information and sources.

  22. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 10:31: Where did I accuse you of saying Gordon Edes makes things up? Show me. You can’t, because I didn’t. I asked you whether you would care to make that accusation, and now you have given us your answer.I don’t blindly trust Edes’ information and sources, either. The issue is whether some of Manny’s teammates have told him they believe he could’ve/should’ve played late last season. I’m not trying to figure out whether they were right — only if they said it. On that, I trust Edes.

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