Tagged: Manny Ramirez

Manny’s A Man

Manny took performance enhancing drugs.

As I re-read that sentence I just wrote, it’s almost oxymoronic.

Manny — the natural — took a steroid?

To me, that’s like saying Larry Bird took a steroid.

Manny and Larry are equally important to Boston sports, and they’re equally unsuspicious.

It’s truly unbelievable. And yet, I believe it. There’s hardly any room for doubt.

Here’s what we must remember: professional athletes are human beings, and as such, they are mirrors of ourselves.
We can judge them for their actions, but were we in the same situation,
many of us would behave the same way. Am I defending Manny and other
cheaters? No. But I am saying, “There but by the grace of God go I.” And I’m also saying, I’m not going to stop loving Manny just because he’s so…. human.

No More Manny

Manny Being Manny.jpgIn Theo I trust.

If he thinks this trade will help the Red Sox win another World Series ring, then I guess it really is time for Manny to go.

That said, it’s hard to fathom that the Boston Red Sox just let one
of the greatest right-handed hitters of all time — a guy who helped
the team win two World Series rings — walk out the door in the middle
of a pennant race. The Yankees love this trade. Their fear of the Red
Sox vanished at 4:20pm yesterday. Oh, and Joe Torre went to bed last
night with a BIG smile on his face.

I am a fan. I am an emotional fan who loves Manny’s joyful, teddy
bear personality, his majestic presence in the on-deck circle and
batter’s box, and the way he wrecks pitches in the strike zone. I
acknowledge that he was not the perfect competitor during his years in
a Red Sox uniform. His jogging to first base sometimes drove me crazy.
But in the same way a parent keeps loving his kids no matter what they
do, nothing Manny ever did or said made me dislike the guy. It wasn’t
blind affection. It was eyes-wide-open appreciation for a marvelous
player I “knew” better than any other.

I will miss Manny and I will root for him as a Dodger. I hope he finds peace in L.A. and that this trade ends
up being a great thing for him and his family.

Time to turn the page on the Manny years, one of the most amazing
chapters we’ve ever experienced in Red Sox Nation. It’s Jason Bay time.
The 2008 World Series MVP.

The Truth About Manny (If Only It Were That Simple)

Manny, Pedro, Papi.jpg

Is the following quotation from a book review that will eventually be written about the events that finally led to Manny Ramirez’s brilliant Red Sox career ending in a ball of flames?

“The story examines the variations a mistruth can go through when filtered through person after person and illustrates how different people can have multiple perceptions and interpretations of the same event. The various points of view the reader sees provide insight into the story that none of the individual characters possesses.”

No, this is an excerpt from a review of the book, Nothing But The Truth, by Avi, which is one of the books I read with my class when I was a 9th grade English teacher. But the lessons of this profound book apply directly to this whole Manny Ramirez situation. All of you who have read this book understand that there is NOT “one truth” in the drama that has played out over the last week — and over the last eight years. There’s Manny’s truth. There’s Manny’s wife’s truth. There’s John Henry’s truth. There’s Theo’s truth. There’s Francona’s truth. There’s each teammate’s truth. There’s Dan Shaughnessy’s truth. There’s Jerry Remy’s truth. There’s the stat-man’s truth. And there’s YOUR truth, based on everything you have read, heard, and seen — and the mindset you bring to this situation.

The book reminds us that everything you hear from a second-hand source has been distorted in some way, often a small way and and often unintentionally. It reminds us that two people can witness the same scene and describe it totally differently — and both descriptions can be accurate. It reminds us that all reporters, players, and fans perceive the things Manny does and says — and the things that are said about him — through the lenses of their own prejudgments and cultural values, so all reporters, fans, and players see and hear different things. It reminds us that we almost NEVER know the true context of the quotations we read and the actions we witness, and that reporters can tell you the complete truth — and mangle it at the same time. It reminds us that a small misunderstanding can snowball into an out-of-control mess when one warped interpretation leads to multiple responses that are even more off-base, and the original players in the drama react to these responses in ways that make the situation even worse, and on and on it goes, the downward spiral of miscommunication and misinterpretations compounding in a horrific way.

Ultimately, it’s futile for reporters (and fans) to state unequivocally what’s going on in this Manny Ramirez situation — BUT because it’s their job (and because they’re programmed to think their version of the truth is “the right” one), that’s what they do. And this often takes us even further from “the real truth.”

We should be careful about judging people based on shreds of information (from second-hand sources in the media) that barely scratch the surface of a complex scenario. (For example, Manny Ramirez and Sox traveling secretary Jack McCormick have worked together for eight years — there’s a history there that we know nothing about.) The press is paid to tell us what happened — but only the BEST reporters dig below the surface to find the REAL STORY. There are conversations that have taken place that we don’t know about (Scott Boras?) and factors at play that we can’t comprehend (culture differences?) that, if we were aware of them, would shift whatever opinion we currently have about Manny Ramirez and others who have played a role in this saga.

Tom Caron stated the truth he perceives on last night’s post-game show: “Manny has acted and spoken his way right out of this clubhouse.”

Or, maybe WE’VE acted and spoken Manny right out of this clubhouse by our tainted and sensationalized reporting of “the truth” and our lack of understanding about a unique personality who, through it all, drives in runs with a smile on his face. That’s certainly Manny’s truth. He said last night, “Mental peace has no price and I don’t have peace here.” When I put myself in his shoes, that’s a truth that’s easy to see.

What Have You Done 500 Times?

Manny finally connected for his 500th career home run (and then his
501st, 502nd, and 503rd). Only 24 people in major league history have
achieved this milestone. That’s one of the marvelous things about
baseball — performance is so quantifiable. We KNOW that Manny Ramirez
is one of the greatest 24 home run hitters of all-time. It’s simply not

So this got me thinking — what’s the equivalent of hitting 500 home
runs in non-athletes’ careers? What’s a high level of accomplishment in
your field that only 24 people in history have ever reached?

I was a teacher for eight years. Perhaps the equivalent to 500 home
runs in teaching is having 500 former students credit YOU with having
taught them an invaluable life lesson.

For a pediatrician, how about accurately diagnosing 500
difficult-to-diagnose cases, keeping the patient and parents calm, and
prescribing proper follow-up care?

For a minister, priest, or rabbi, the equivalent might be delivering 500 truly superior sermons.

For a parent of five (like me), I’d say showing up for 500 little
league games, soccer games, swim meets, karate tests, dance recitals,
school plays, class art shows, teacher conferences, and graduations —
without missing one — would be the equivalent of hitting 500 home runs.

Probably during the season of 2011 or 2012, Manny will hit his 600th
home run. I don’t even want to think about what it would require to be
a 600-homer parent…..


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Fantasy Baseball in Red Sox Kid Nation

started playing online fantasy baseball in about 1995 or so, and it’s
now an annual tradition. Draft day has become a holiday on my calendar
and is as eagerly anticipated as any day of the year. This year’s draft
— my son’s first — will go down in history as my favorite of
all-time, for it demonstrated the emotional hold that our beloved Red
Sox players have over us, especially when we’re kids.

A Co-Manager Comes of Age

The last two years, my almost-nine year-old son has “co-managed” my
fantasy baseball team with me (I’m in a 12-team Yahoo! league with my
brothers, sister, father, and several close friends). The main impact
of his co-management has been the reliable presence of Nomar
Garciaparra on the roster and also in the starting lineup whenever he
has been healthy. (“Daddy, put Nomar back in the lineup!”) Although my
son was only five years old when Nomar was traded, #5 remains a god in
our house.

backyard-and-hes-off.jpgThis past fall, my son managed his own fantasy football team against his dad, uncles, aunts, and grandparents and WON the league. He established himself as a draft wizard, grabbing Peyton
Manning, Randy Moss, and Adrian Peterson with his top three picks. So,
riding a wave of pride and optimism, in February he asked to manage his
own fantasy baseball team. Confident that he was ready to compete with
the big boys, we expanded the league to 13 teams.

The Draft: It’s Emotion vs. Analysis

We bought all the fantasy baseball magazines and studied them
closely for a month. The day of the draft (7:30pm start time), I
hurried home from work to be sure he was ready, and when I arrived, I
was treated to a wonderful sight. He had created a information cockpit
for himself at the computer. Surrounding his seat on all sides were
stat sheets, handwritten draft lists for every position, articles about
sleepers and busts, and various pages ripped out of magazines. “Daddy,
I know who I’m going to pick if I get the first pick,” he proclaimed
eagerly. “Jake Peavy!” (Peavy scored the most points in our league last
year — so he was a logical choice.)

A few minutes later, the draft order was revealed on our Yahoo!
draft site. My son had pick #3, and I had pick #4. “I really hope Peavy
will still be there at number three!” he prayed. I set up shop at my
laptop in a room adjacent to his cockpit.

7:30pm sharp, the draft went live. Suddenly, A-Rod was gone. “Yes! He
took A-Rod!” The second pick was… Hanley Ramirez. And the clock
started ticking on my son’s pick, number three. He had 90 seconds to
click on Jake Peavy. But he froze. Pick Peavy, I urged. “I don’t know,
Daddy,” he said, struggling with a decision. “Maybe I want Josh
Beckett.” Peavy’s a great pick, Beckett’s a great pick, I told him. 20
seconds left. Make your pick! “I want Josh Beckett.” Click.

Emotion trounced Analysis. How great is that??

Fast forward to the second round. My son had spent the rest of the
first round studying his notes to figure out who to take next. “If he’s
still available, I’m going to take Grady Sizemore with my second pick,”
my son announced. Good choice, I assured him. Then came his turn to
draft. And he froze. Pick Sizemore, I urged. “Daddy, do you think I
should take Grady Sizemore or Manny Ramirez?” he asked. You’ll be able
to get Manny in the next round, I assured him. Go for Sizemore this
round. “Don’t tell me what to do!” he said curtly. And suddenly,
Ramirez was Beckett’s fantasy teammate.

Emotion 2, Analysis 0.

Let’s jump to the third round. “I think I’m going to take Jonathan
Papelbon,” he said. “Do you think that’s a good pick, Daddy?” He’s a
great player, I told him, but no one’s going to pick a closer until the
fifth round at the earliest. You can get him in a later papelbon-wins-series.jpground.
“Don’t tell me what to do!” Click. Papelbon joined his Red Sox
teammates on a roster that was looking more and more like a tribute to
the posters on my son’s walls.

Emotion 3, Analysis zilch.

Fourth round — analysis had been totally abandoned and emotion had
taken over. He wanted to pick Dustin Pedroia but I convinced him that
Mike Lowell would be a better pick. And in the fifth round, he picked
his first non-Red Sox player: Torii Hunter. By the end of the draft,
his team included Tim Wakefield, Johnny Damon, and of course, our
favorite player of all time, Nomar Garciaparra (secured with his 24th,
and final pick).

Clearly, my son drafted a good team. With Beckett, Ramirez,
Papelbon, and Lowell anchoring his roster, he’s got as good a shot as
anyone to win the league. But I’ll always remember all the research he
did, all the logical planning and rational reasoning his left brain
performed, and how the loyalty and emotion of his right brain – the
side that loves the Red Sox – swooped in at those moments of truth and
buried his analytical, stat-focused left brain. He’s eight. What a
fantastic age to be a Red Sox fan!

And for the record, my first pick (#4 overall) was Johan Santana,
and the only Red Sox player I secured was Coco Crisp. (My left brain is
counting on him being traded, batting leadoff for a National League
team, and winning the N.L. batting title…..)