Another inane column today by ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark, a once-decent columnist who seems to be becoming more inane and more preachy by the day.
He begins with this ridiculous opening:
Hey, we couldn’t be happier for those Los Angeles Dodgers, who are selling about 30,000 tickets a day now that they’ve moved their home games to Planet Manny. But we’d like to ask one little question of all those people in L.A. who are showering their man Manny Ramirez with so much love:
What the heck are you cheering for?
Um, maybe the fact that Manny has batted .467/.564/.867 since he came to LA? Why should Dodgers fans care what happened on a team 3,000 miles away? Manny is ours now, and he is raking. So we cheer.
Stark then proceeds to lay out his case for why signing Manny to a contract after this season would “set a terrible precedent” after his “bad behavior” this year. Indeed, Stark seems to have appointed himself personal Pope of his own personal crusade to make sure Manny gets as little money as possible next year.
But what I don’t get is why Stark thinks it would be such a novel event if an athlete got money after whining his way out of town. As if this hasn’t happened thousands of times before. As if Manny’s own Red Sox hadn’t done this twice already with Julio Lugo and J.D. Drew.
But what I don’t get even more is the repeated suggestions by the East Coast media, parroted here by Stark, that Manny was somehow doing more than just whining, that he was actually dogging it at the plate in July, leading up to the deadline.
Stark suggests in this column that Manny’s brilliant performance in LA should not win him a big new contract but in fact the opposite, because it proves he was not playing his best in Boston. Stark suggests that Manny’s performance this month is especially jarring “after what went on last month in Boston.”
But my question is, did any of these guys actually go back and look at Manny’s statistics last month?
The man batted .347/.473/.587 in the month of July. Do people really think that was dogging it? Do people actually believe what they seem to be implying, which is that Manny could hit .467 every month if only he just put his mind to it?
Stark quotes his usual chorus of “several anonymous GMs” as saying they would never give Manny a big contract because he will probably dog it again in the future.
But if batting .347 against the AL East is dogging it, then I would gladly pay Manny to keep on dogging it for my team any day of the week.