Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Split Decision? Shouldn't Be!

For some reason, the return of Ian Kennedy (who probably thought his 6-ER outing Tuesday was a stellar start) and notorious Sox killer Rodrigo Lopez isn't going to be making too many ripples around Boston right now with the NBA Finals going on. So all baseball attention is going to be focused on something that will be the center of the Boston universe, period, once the final buzzer sounds on Game Seven tomorrow night.

That, of course, is the return of the mack like few other returns of the mack. The mack, of course, would be possibly the third-longest-tenured Red Sox player in the last decade (off the top of my head, only Varitek and Wakefield had been around longer, and I'm not doing the research). He's also one of the most enigmatic and most controversial. Oh, Manny Ramirez was also a good baseball player.

And the focus will be on the reception. There's been a lot made about this, probably since Clemens left town. Clemens got mostly cheers, then mostly boos when he went to New York. Pedro got cheers. Nomar got an ovation. Coco Crisp would have gotten a 20-minute ovation from me, but he has been on the DL during his teams' returns the last two years. Damon got booed. Derek Lowe and Dave Roberts were cheered.

The question is what Manny's going to get. His tenure here marked the beginning of the Red Sox' seriousness in trying to win the World Series. The Pedro acquisition was a step in the right direction, but when Duquette signed Manny, that signified that he was no longer F'ing around. And the new ownership group just took the ball from there. Because of the player, the team was obviously significantly improved on the field, and he was centrally responsible for the following:

-The playoffs in 03-05 and 07.
-David Ortiz.
-Timely hot streaks where he put the team on his back. This happened in the playoffs as well.
-The two World Series.
-The ingenius 2006 "Manny Being Manny" commercials.
-The Julian Tavarez head rub, the Manny Cutoff, the Green Monster urination, the double point, and a long series of awesome handshakes.
-Not believing in curse and making your own destination.

But do these outweigh the player's downfalls? Do they outweigh the on-field shirking, the questionable injuries, the showing up at spring training late thing, and the occasional sulking about wanting to be traded and hating Boston, the fans, and the media? That alone can probably be dwarfed by the achievements. It was almost unanimous among the HYD Baseball comments section participants.

Then the Scott Boras thing happened.

Since Manny hired Boras as his agent, he orchestrated a series of stunts that ran him out of Boston and guaranteed his $40 million options were not picked up. There was the normal shirking. There was the fake knee injury. Sitting against good pitchers. Taking three down the middle against Mariano. There was the dugout fight with Youkilis. And then there was Jack McCormick. Even upon the Jack McCormack incident, I was hesitant to write him off as an unperson the way I have with 46. As far as Boras went, I thought he just didn't know better.

The day he clinched my boos on Friday was July 28, 2008, when he decided to talk contract to the media. I called it the "Johnny F. Damon Method of Running Yourself Out Of Town." If you behave so badly as to do what he did throughout the 2008 season (all things previously aforementioned in this post and in the linked post) for the specific ends of peacing out of the city, that's saying that despite all the good you did, you hated the place.

The fact that after he orchestrated the trade that would only go through if the Dodgers didn't exercise the option (and guaranteed a payday for Boras), he took off at the plate, was just salt in the wound and left Red Sox fans wondering if he was semi-shirking the whole time. Plus he talked crap about how much he hated Boston. He revolutionized the Johnny Damon Method of "talk contract, then talk trash." Damon deserved the boos he got for both the methodology and the Yankees aspect of it. Manny deserves the boos for taking the methodology to a whole new level.

And only AFTER that all happened, the HCG suspension and the List of 104 inclusion happened.

Is there anyone else left (Bandi?) who would still cheer Manny Ramirez if they went to Friday's game? If so, they might want to read back on the July 2008 archives for a friendly reminder on how hard this guy sabotaged the team to get that cash in the 08-09 offseason. You do what he did in 2008, you get the consequences in 2010.

14 comments:

jason said...

I am going to go on the record as saying he will be cheered for, my main argument to this effect is that there has been enough time to heal the wounds, i firmly believe that if he had come back the season the trade happened or early the next season he probably would have been booed, i think when i was talking with dv i had said i would boo him, ive since decided that i would do neither, id just sit on my hands this mainly is due to the fact that lets face it, without him the red sox probably havent won a world series in 92 years

the gm at work said...

Jason,

The guy ran himself out of town. Basically what he did in 2008 was he booed the fans. He had previously cheered the cans, but both by pulling the stunts he pulled and by talking about the city the way he did after the fact, he basically said you suck. He deserves the same in return.

But yes, as the debate has gone on sports radio all week: cheer, boo, or sit on hands? Full out boo here.

Anonymous said...

DV

Don't know if you noticed it, but you and PF picked up a new blogger last night--named Marino. Wrote a good post, too. It'll help having new blood on here, especially since Bandi and Kaplan are so spotty in their contributions.

As for this post, to the best of my knowledge every fact you listed is 100% accurate and I don't dispute any of it. That said, I don't know if I'd cheer for Manny, but I definitely wouldn't boo him. And despite all the reprehensible things he did, in the aggregate, I look at the Manny Ramirez experience as a positive one.

As you mentioned, everything he did right around the trade deadline in 2008 was terrible. He probably did quit on that team. He assaulted a senior citizen. In 2006 he likely quit on the team after the Yankees came to town and slaughtered the Sox. He took all kinds of days off and was a general pain in the ass. But even with all of that in tow, I think that Jason brings up the most pertinent point--without Manny Ramirez we're not looking at 2004 and 2007. And our entire experience as fans is different. It would be so much more frustrating. Ever since the 2004 World Series I've enjoyed watching the Red Sox so much more. The pressure of every game is off. I watch for the pleasure of it, not to keep tabs on their position in the AL East and deal with the constant idea that every game lost is one step closer to missing the playoffs and having to wait yet another year to hopefully see the Red Sox break through. As your post aptly pointed out, not only was he awesome for the Red Sox, but he made David Ortiz awesome. And he was at the center of some of the most enjoyable and rewarding Sox teams in franchise history.

To me, there was a lot of bad. No question. But there was just more good.

--the Gunn

from the bronx said...

gm, obviously he shouldn't be cheered, but you should never be surprised by how much people view the past through rose colored glasses. '04 and '07 will not be forgotten, but the way Manny behaved at the end probably will be (if not already then at some point). and, as i think we already know, fans don't care about steroids. ortiz has gotten a complete pass from boston fans, so i don't see how the treatment of manny could be any different on this issue.

from the bronx said...

a couple of other things since i've been absent lately.

1) Andrew Brackman's last 50-60 innings have been fantastic. granted, he is still only at high-A ball, but it does seem from reports on his location/velocity that he's turned a corner in his rehab from TJ surgery.

2) Slade Heathcott has impressed me with all aspects of his game thus far. Still very young, but he is better than I thought he was when they drafted him and has a very toolsy, projectable game.

3) After last night's 0-3, Gardner is hitting .317/.401/.429 with an OPS+ of 128. I will be delighted if the Yankees decide not to go after Carl Crawford in the off season because of Gardner's development.

TimC said...

I am cheering for Manny. I may elaborate more later, but Nigeria is about to kick off against Greece's 10-man defense.

Also, I want to know more about Marino. He seems like he might know DV and is, at the very least, Boston-partial. I am concerned that he is making my common mistake of commenting after dinner. I am also not impressed with his impression of Scal.

the gm at work said...

Guys,

A scouting report: Marino is straight outta Wilmington and I've been telling him to comment on this thing for years. That's why he called himself "first time, long time." He's a Boston guy (though it has not always been this way) and is more forgiving than most. I'd bet he'd cheer Manny. While his opinions are often wrong, he has a cool head and is overly articulate to the point that it's comical.

Great addition.

FTB, the Ortiz treatment is embarrassing. I do think Manny will get booed pretty lustily though.

Judging by the fact that we are all working, the after-dinner commenting might have to be the way the blog evolves.

jason said...

what have i been the only one working in the past? i always tried to comment while i read during my lunch hour if i didnt have work to do

the gm at work said...

Jason,

It's not fair. We all JD out all day and you work, yet you're the one who gets laid off.

PF said...

Marino's comment was one of the best things written here in a while. That's not a knock on any of us, his was just that good. I hope he comments more.

Outside of the incident with the travelling secretary, I can't think of one reason why manny ramirez wouldn't get a standing ovation. I'm not saying the other things he did weren't bad - they were. It's just that who wouldn't put up with those things to win a world series (2 to be exact)? The red sox were not a normal franchise. They were one of the most weirdly unsuccessful but loved franchised in all of american pro sports, probably the most so actually. A lot of hall of fame players gave it their best go to win it all in boston, sometimes more than one on the same team. Couldn't do it. Even pedro, for all of his greatness, couldn't get it done as the primary guy. Manny ramirez is the main reason this franchise, however you want to describe them, changed by winning those 2 titles. He was the main reason they happened, and there wasn't a particularly close second. I know because I watched it happen from the other side, and in some ways you get a better feel for who is responsible by your "fear factor". Mannys was through the roof, and the reason for that was because he was in many ways as unstoppable a hitter as you can come across. Quittng on your team is probably the worst thing you can do on the field, and he did it. So let's just use that example and wipe the other stuff out for a second. If I had asked any of you in 2003, hey guys, mannys gonna take the sox to a world series title next year, then again in 2007, but he's going to quit on the team and get himself run out of town in 2008, that cool? You all would have signed up, and I would have too if it was me. For that reason manny deserves one of the loudest standing O's to ever come out of that stadium. Its easy to look back now and focus on the bad. But the alternative, as jason said, is likely to be world seriesless. Deal with it and give the good the love it deserves, because that should be more important. Baseball isn't a koombaya session. Its about winning. All manny ramirez did was win.

PF said...

All tha other stuff, besides pushing an elderly man which you just don't do, is koombaya stuff.

TimC said...

PF explained very well the reasons why my dad and I are looking forward to seeing Manny come back. There is also a bit of anti-Theo in my feelings, as well, for I never really forgave Theo for placing Manny on waivers and risking everything the team was able to accomplish for the sake of "cost-effectiveness".

Am I justified in thinking that Manny's exit was orchestrated by the owners and Theo? Probably not, but that's the way I feel about the situation.

It is also too bad that the "fear factor" does not work in reverse. That is, it is a shame that fans of opposing teams do not hand out standing O's to players who put the fear of God into their own fans whenever they do something in a game. This is the reason why Ron Artest did not receive a standing O in Boston.

Anonymous said...

Manny may be a scumbag, but I’ll cheer anyone who was instrumental in the Red Sox winning a championship – let alone two. I choose to place the good stuff – .312 average/274 HR/868 RBI in Boston; 8 All-Star selections; 2004 World Series MVP; etc. – above the bad stuff – faking injuries, pushing down an old man, hiring the sleaziest agent in sports, etc.

We could have used his bat last year, no? What could have been!

I’ll try to post a couple of times a week. I’ll definitely be an evening poster. I appreciate all the hard work you guys put into this blog. I find it more enjoyable than WEEI.

Off-topic: I’m going to embarrass DV for a second. DV’s high school track coach retired this week after 40 years. When asked who his favorite runner was, who do you think he named?

Marino

the gm said...

Marino,

As I just told Pat over the text machine, the way I see it is that he punched us in the face. It would be as if me and him were to retire from HYD tomorrow. Then he were to travel to Boston to say Coco Crisp sucks and sucker-punch me in the face.

Would I appreciate the 3.5 years, 1,300 posts, and probably 10,000 comments at that moment? F no. I'd want to punch him right back. Manny punched us in the face, folks. And seeing that we can't jump onto the field and punch him back (that, according to my philosophy outlined on May 6th on HYD, should get you automatically tased before you get to the outfield), booing is the best we can do.