Mark Teixeira’s been getting it from the Atlanta Press, and up here in Beantown Manny has been hearing it from all the usual suspects: the Boston Herald, the Boston Globe, our sports talk radio station, WEEI, and on our local sports cable station, NESN. (Now he’s even getting lectures from Seattle cops for jaywalking.)
First, he gabbed to the Herald’s Rob Bradford about his contract situation. That drew an acid response from HOF pitcher-turned-colorman Dennis Eckersley, on NESN, and a truly bizarre story from Bob Lobel on WEEI, that Manny’s three-pitch K against Mariano Rivera was perceived by the front office as some sort of attempt to show them up for fining him. (An FO FU? Sorry.) For those of you paying attention to the calendar, the fine came in June, the strikeout a week later, and the report by Lobel nearly two weeks after that—the day after Manny’s contract complaints appeared in the Herald. Hmmm, that’s not suspicious.
And of course, cantankerous Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy had to get his licks in a couple of times. (In the second article, Shaughnessy’s article refers to one “Ralph Nadar.” Hello, copyeditor?)
And Tony Massarotti, in the Herald, attempted to demonstrate that Manny’s antics, combined with his price tag, make him no longer worth it, because he’s supposedly in decline:
The Red Sox long ago chose to live with Ramirez’ bat and put up with his antics, mostly because he was worth it. But coming out of this year’s All-Star break, since the start of last season, Ramirez ranked 35th in the majors in RBI, trailing people like Jeff Francoeur, Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Guillen and Raul Ibanez. In home runs and slugging, Ramirez ranked a respective 44th and 35th.
Massarotti’s analysis goes beyond this—his column admits that it would be a huge challenge for the Sox to find anyone to replace Ramirez—but the above paragraph got picked up by WEEI on Monday morning, who rattled off the long list of those ahead of Manny in RBI over that timeframe. (For more on the trouble that the Sox would have replacing Manny, check out this column by Ken Rosenthal. Yes, Ramirez may be expendable—but Holliday and Teixeira are not the panaceas that Boston-based writers hope they are.)
The Worcester Telegram also picked up the charge, with Bill Ballou calling Ramirez “obnoxious” and suggesting that the Sox replace him with—get this—Brandon Moss. “That’s a smart business move, for sure,” wrote Ballou. Apparently, what Moss brings to the lineup at 400k is worth what Manny brings at 20MM, what with “the emergence of JD Drew as a production threat.”
Friends, this is where I start vomiting into my hands. This is where I break out into hives. This is where I break the glass, pull the red lever, and cry, “Stop the train! I’m getting off!”
I think it’s worth noting that these are all MSM folks. Not bloggers. The Red Sox blogosphere is remarkably quiet on the Manny front, in fact. Sure, there were a few angry callers to WEEI. But then, angry callers on WEEI is sort of like white on rice. So when Dan Shaughnessy writes about the “Hub of Hardball Hysteria,” as if the fans are the ones going nuts over Manny’s bad behavior, I wonder just who the “hysterical” ones are. Sure, there was the poll on Boston.com suggesting that readers are divided 50/50 about whether Manny should stay or go. Sure, there were some disparaging comments made on message boards—but there seemed to be even more defending Ramirez. So it looks to me like this is mostly a media gripe session and not actually the fan-firestorm it has been made out to be.
Nonetheless. I cannot stand idly by while JD Drew’s “emergence” is bandied about like some sort of real solution. I cannot sit here and let the blunt and contextless RBI statistic be the tool with which Manuel Aristides Olnecida Ramirez is bludgeoned in the press. In good conscience, I cannot allow Brandon Moss to be posited as some sort of “replacement” for the future Hall of Famer.
In short, I simply could not stand to look at myself in the mirror if I did not write today’s Metro column.