Despite the fact that his teammate, Trot Nixon, was disabled due to an oblique strain in last night's game, Manny Ramirez still insisted on taking the day off today. Even though tomorrow is an off day for the team anyway, Manny still needed a little extra personal time. Notwithstanding the fact that he draws the team's highest salary, one of the two highest in baseball, Man-Ram couldn't play today for his own reasons. So the Sox were without two thirds of their starting outfield in this afternoon's contest against the D-Rays. Fortunately, they won despite Manny's absence.
Over the weekend, Terry Francona told Manny he could sit out tonight's game. But with the ensuing circumstances, he later asked his left fielder if he'd reconsider because the team was "in a bit of bind." The answer; no can-do.
Perhaps this is Manny's way of assuring the team that his trade request was for real. After all, this is the third request in four years. Apparently this request took his teammates by surprise. No one seemed to have been aware of the star fielder's unhappiness.
In recent weeks, Manny has had numerous mental lapses. Oddly, they've all come against the Devil Rays. The slugger has left himself wide open to criticism for a mid-game bathroom break inside the Monster; for being the last player back onto the field after a brief rain delay - arriving just before the first pitch; for asking to be taken out of a game because of "tight hamstrings"; and for not hustling down to first base on an infield grounder last night. What appeared to but a surefire double play ended up in Manny being ruled safe because of a wide throw. It was a critical play in the game, allowing the eventual winning run.
Manny has always been very popular in the clubhouse but, understandably, some of his teammates are upset with his attitude and behavior. Loafing isn't going to win any friends or admirers, and being selfish when the team is in need won't either. His teammates feel that he gets special treatment from the management and the media, and their mostly right. Putting up such staggering numbers year after year has earned Manny some leeway. And with a contract the size of his, he knows as well as everyone else that no one else wants him. With a contract that will pay him $57 million over the next three years, the man is simply untradable. The team once placed him on waivers, and there were no takers. Though there would have been no compensation to the Sox - it was simply a matter of picking up the remaining contract - not one team in baseball would bite. At the end of the season he'll become a 10/5 man, and will have veto power over any trade, but in reality his massive contract already has that power. For better, or worse - or both - the Sox own him through 2008.
Manny has outlasted the GM who signed him, and a couple of managers that he's played for. That's the problem with sports today; the superstar players hold all the cards - and they all know it. They make more than their bosses, and they know they'll be around longer than them too.
What's odd is that Manny allegedly wants out of Boston because of a lack of privacy, but he hasn't spoken to the media since he hit his 400th homer in late May. And if he wants to avoid the unnecessary spotlight, then he should avoid calling attention to himself in such a myriad of negative ways.
Who knew he was unhappy anyway? When isn't the guy smiling? And why shouldn't he be? He's multi-millionaire who earns his money playing baseball. He's great at what he does, and is consistently at the top of almost all offensive categories. The fans generally love him, as do his teammates, and he plays on the defending World Series Champions - a team that is contending for another championship this year. Guys in Kansas City might have a reason to be unhappy, but Manny? Give me a break!
Theo needs to have a sit down with the Man-child and set things straight. It's time for Manny to start acting like a big boy, and not a selfish child. It's time for a time out. Manny needs to understand that he doesn't run the show and that, though he is a tremendously gifted athlete whose talents are greatly appreciated by the organization, he does not live by a different set of rules than the rest of his teammates. For the benefit of all, hopefully he'll have an awakening, an enlightenment, an epiphany. At least we can always hope.
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