Since joining the Dodgers at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, Manny Ramirez has been going off. The ball must look like a beach ball to him right now. And NL pitchers look like Little Leaguers against him. Dodger fans are ecstatic. And why wouldn't they be. The Dodgers have a swagger that was absent pre-Manny, and they are winning right now. What's not to like?
The way Manny behaved in Boston, forcing a trade, that's what. And all fans of the sport -- or anyone who still values integrity, commitment, and honoring an agreement -- should be concerned.
Apparently baseball's "powers that be" share this concern. MLB has reportedly begun an investigation into Manny's final days in Boston. And there is plenty of reason to do so.
All of a sudden, Manny's allegedly ailing knee now seems pretty healthy, doesn't it? Add to that the fact that he and/or Scott Boras reportedly petitioned the Red Sox to stay in Boston after the trade was initiated. All he wanted was for his two option years dropped and he would behave. That's ransom, or blackmail, depending on how you view it.
Manny held the Red Sox hostage to his demands by dogging it, and not hustling to first base or in the outfield. It was also reported that he refused to board the team bus in Anaheim for the trip to the airport. When Manny finally arrived in Seattle, he suddenly started complaining about a sore knee. It seemed to come out of nowhere. But he never sought treatment from the team trainers. A subsequent MRI showed no injury or damage to either knee.
The truth had been revealed; Manny was a bullshitter, a quitter, and a crybaby whiner who put his personal interests first, ahead of those of his team. Not exactly what you'd call a team player.
But all of that came after he'd already slapped teammate Kevin Youkilis in the face in the dugout (caught on live TV), and pushed a 64-year-old traveling secretary to the ground because the older gentleman wasn't certain he could secure all 16 of the tickets Manny had requested for that evening's game in Houston. Apparently Manny never considered the fact that it was a road game, in a National League park, and that maybe some of his teammates might also want some of the limited available tickets. It didn't matter; Manny comes first in Manny's World. And apparently Manny, the multi-millionaire, also never heard of Stub Hub.
Manny signed an eight-year contract that gave the Red Sox control over him for an additional two years, at their option -- all while compensating him at the rate of $20 mil annually. Then he decided he wanted to change the terms of the agreement.
Scott Boras filled Manny's head with visions of a new four-year, $100 million pact. But that could only be secured if the Red Sox didn't pick up Manny's option in 2009. And since he'll be 37 next May, the clock was ticking on such a long-term deal. The question is, who will pay a guy nearing age 40 $25 million per year? Furthermore, Boras stood to have Manny on his client list for three years with no compensation if Manny didn't somehow get out of his deal. That's why dropping the two option years was a requisite to approving any trade, including the one that ultimately sent him to the Dodgers.
This whole charade is so obvious. And the whole thing really stinks. There's a foul smell in the world of baseball, and the stench could affect the very heart and integrity of a great game.
MLB has got to show some backbone and issue some sort of punishment to both Ramirez and Boras. An awful precedent has now been established, and it could serve as the template for any disgruntled players that want to get out of their contracts and hit the open market. That's now a distinct possibility and that outcome is very disturbing.
American society lives by the rule of law; contractual obligations must be upheld. They are important, even critical, agreements between parties. Manny's actions turn this whole notion on its head. If you don't like your contract, act up and force your way out. That's supposed to be illegal. And the insane thing is that -- as opposed to the vast majority of personal contracts and obligations that most Americans will ever sign or hold -- this one called for the guy in question to be paid $20 mil annually!! And it wasn't good enough for him!! How much more out-of-touch can one man be?
MLB needs to take action and come down hard. And hopefully the rest of baseball will come together collectively and not reward Ramirez for his poor behavior. Cancers should be cut out, not fed.
Manny expects to be paid $25 million annually in the years that he will be 39 and 40. Please, let sanity -- and justice -- prevail.
Copyright © 2008 Sean M. Kennedy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author's consent.