I read something the other day that was not really new to me, but for the first time in my life it resonated.
As much as I want to 'hang out' here and on some of the gaming forums and just 'be one of the guys', it's not possible. I have been naive enough to think I could and you could just 'let it happen' but at the end of the day it really is not possible.
Jason Varitek is a man I'd lay down my life for, on and off the field, Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Mike Lowell, Wake, Dougie, Papi, all of them. Put 24 guys in a clubhouse who'd kill for you and you for the with 1 guy that didn't give a shit about you, well, can you see where I am coming from?
Listen Manny is not and never was the Anti-Christ. Over the course of my 4.5 years in that clubhouse we had some good and bad times. As a hitter he and I had tons of conversations, going both ways, about being pitched to and how I would pitch to someone else. At the end of the day Manny really could care less about me or my family and that's ok, even if it's not how I am or want to be.
Anyone remember the '04 game when D Lowe was leading (the Dodgers I think) 1-0 in Boston and Foulke came in to close the game? Remember what happened in the 9th? Shallow VERY routine fly ball to left? Ho hum, light jog in, glove non-chalantly up, oops? Drop, run scored, game tied. 4 days of grinding his ass off for D Lowe? So what. Blown Save for Foulke? So what. We ended up winning the game and at the end of the day it was "Manny being Manny".
I take the loss in a game Tek punches out with the bases loaded I'll sleep like a baby. I know for a guaranteed life betting fact that the man did everything in his God Given ability to succeed at the plate, behind the plate, on the bases and in the clubhouse because of the gut wrenching fear anyone would ever suspect he didn't play the game right, respect the uniform, appreciate the fact that some kid at that game might be watching his first ever baseball game, or care about his teammates.
You don't want to win a world series even close to as much as I always did and wanted to. Having to swallow things that you were raised to believe in to do it is hard as hell. Painful in ways the ring doesn't fix. You can drive home from the park and explain to your kids that something they saw you both knew was unethical or down right stupid and wrong was done by someone who just doesn't get it.
When your kid has a personal relationship with that person I can assure you it's a very different story. My kids loved the hell out of Manny, he was always nice to them when he talked to them. Again, this guy is far and away the best hitter I ever suited up with.
Oh and one more thing. No need to preach to me what our pay is for, I know that, and have always known that. The world is full of people that would give '110%' for 10 million a year.
An interesting combination of points here, and I'm afraid while they are all on target, they fail to reach the intended "call out". I have no doubt that the events of 31 July 2008 are the culmination of many differnet episodes of "Manny being Manny", and while I can sit on the couch and work my intrinsic hand muscles by toggling between NESN and ESPN and MLB EI to catch all of the games possible, I can never have "insider knowledge" of what a professional clubhouse is like - it is a world different from what I have ever experienced, but I suspect not too dissimilar.
At the end of the day, Manny is what what Manny was and what Manny always will be - an individual with a skill set that <.001% of the population has - an ability to hit a round ball with a round bat with remarkable frequency and results. He is also, from an observational only standpoint, likely someone who fails to "get it", in a way that speaks of PDD. Now, I have never met Manny, never spoken with Manny, never examined Manny; but his skill set with a bat in hand is not unlike what can be seen in PDD with a a variety of other skills (math, music, art, etc.). His clear failings with interpersonal skills and public relations is a red flag as well - he is seems to be, again from a great distance of observation alone, either unbelievably selfish (a personality trait that likely improves his physical skill set), ridiculously naive, or just childish and immature in a way that defies typical personality growth and development. The professional part of me would love to examine Manny to get a real read on what the presented persona is in relation to the man behind the curtain so to speak.
With that said, the only thing I find disappointing in the comments made prior to the trade is the clear message delivered that Manny quit on the team and the perception that you threw him under the proverbial bus. The FO, the Manager, and many players have echoed a sentiment of "keeping things in-house", and the comments made in that forum are clearly outside of that paradigm. Since the trade, others have commented on the situation, but in a much more indirect and veiled fashion - apparently taking the high road so to speak. So at the end of the day, one is left with the conclusion that Manny failed the "fox hole test" - he is clearly not someone you woud want in a fox hole with you, and in doing so he alienated his teammates, field level management, and front office. Unfortunately, as is the case with most dirty laundry, it found a way to be aired in a very public forum.
Perhaps this can be another case of addition by subtraction - unity and "chemistry" are something that the more statistically-oriented crowd on this particular forum tend to under-value, but coming from a background where a true sense of mission and unity is paramount to achieving the objectives, I can appreciate that sense fully. Esprit de corps is more than just a jarhead slogan, it is real if not necessairly measureable.
While I can be disappointed that Manny is now playing for the Dodgers, I can, at the same time, relish the memories that I have of him. I will never say never, but I will admit that I am doubtful that I will ever see another player hit the ball the way Manny did/does. I will remember watching coutless games with my kids and joking that I, too, would grow the Manny-locks (near impossible for me on many levels), and enjoying the way he dissected the pitcher. I love that my little league aged son tries to mimic Manny's stance and swing because even he can tell that it is a thing of beauty. We have been blessed seeing not only 2 championships for the laundry, but also seeing 3 tremendous talents unique in many ways during the same time. Nomar, Pedro, and now Manny - 3 unbelievable talents with unreal skill sets, came through Boston during this time, and we got to watch them on a daily basis. Like a good bottle of wine, there is a bottom that is inevitably found, but the taste is forever burned into your memory. I can only hope that I will cherish the memories.