Those of you not in the Boston area, or smart enough not to subject yourself to WEEI on a regular basis, have probably missed the John Tomase story this week. Tomase writes for the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune, here in good old Lawrence, Mass, and he ran a column on Monday that was staggering in its bile, mean-spiritedness and ignorance, as he hammered Manny Ramirez for "robbing the Red Sox." It was so bad that it drew the attention of the afternoon show on WEEI, at which point Tomase compounded his problem by appearing on the show on Wednesday and making matters worse. (For my take on the vast majority of Manny issues, see this.
Frankly, it was a loathesome column, and it warrants further response. I'd not read all of it, and it's gone from the website, but my local convenience store still had some copies of Monday's paper. So I picked one up and read it. It's awful. Completely uncalled for.
In the six seconds it takes to read this sentence, Manny Ramirez will make three dollars and 78 cents. Check back in an hour, and he'll be $2268 richer. By this time tomorrow, his bank account will hold an extra $54,432.
For any of you out there that thought Manny was working for minimum wage, let John disabuse you of that notion. Of course, this is Manny's fifth year in Boston, and he's been earning at that rate the whole time, so I'm not quite sure what the point is.
Well, I do, of course. He's rich - you should be jealous and hate him.
Ponder those numbers, and now consider this: Ramirez earned (and we use that term very, very loosely) more yesterday than most of us will take home in a year to sit on the bench with an injury that can be best classified as an owie.
I saw that pitch that hit him on Saturday. I didn't think it looked like "an owie." I thought they were lucky he wasn't seriously hurt, when it hit him on the bone just above the ankle. Of course (as we'll see later), Tomase never bothered to talk to one of the trainers.
It would be funny if it weren't so infuriating.
What's infuriating? That he sat down while injured, or that he made so much money while he was sitting?
And if you want to get worked up about how much money someone makes per game, why don't you pull out your little calculator and work out the figures for Curt schilling or Matt Clement or Roger Clemens or Pedro Martinez, none of whom will play in more the 35-36 games this year, as opposed to Manny's 150+...
The free pass Ramirez has received this season from the fans, the media and his teammates is mystifying. But the time has come for someone in the clubhouse to call him out over a disgraceful pattern of behavior that, left unchecked, will only worsen.
Which pattern is that, John?
Manny Ramirez does not care this season.
Wow. Manny "does not care." Those are pretty strong words, John. I assume that you've got some pretty compelling evidence to back them up.
And do not believe for even a single solitary second anyone who claims otherwise or tries to justify his disinterest by saying he acted the same during successful seasons past.
You mean like all those beat writers that actually travel with the team? The broadcasters? The likes of Remy and Macadam and Orsillo who all say that Manny's no different? They travel with the team and deal with them on a daily basis, but we shouldn't believe them, only you, who don't travel with the team. Man, that evidence had better be damned compelling, and it not only needs to demonstrate that "Manny does not care," it needs to explain why everyone else is lying to us.
Players who care don't overtly pine for retirement with three years remaining on a contract that could have inspired Coleridge to poeticize albatrosses.
"Pine for retirement?"
What did Manny say? On April 8, he said:
"That's it. I'm trying to play three more years. I just want to go out there and have fun and play the game for fun because in three years it'll be over for me and I'll go be with my family. Family comes first. Once you're done, you're done, but the game is always there. I've accomplished everything I want to accomplish."
Pretty compelling evidence that Manny "does not care." And that he didn't act "the same during successful seasons past."
Not. Keep in mind that this is the same Manny Ramirez who wanted out of Boston after 3 months in a Red Sox uniform, who was reportedly willing to walk away from his 8-year contract after 1. You want to show that there's something different about Manny this year, you're going to have to do better than that.
Players who care don't leave games after getting hit by pitches that wouldn't have hurt a Little Leaguer. Players who care don't seek days off like the office hypochondriac.
Red Sox games played:
David Ortiz - 70 (the vast majority of which were at DH, meaning 4-5 plate appearances and nothing else.)
Manny Ramirez - 67
Everyone else on the team - less
Ramirez has done all of these things in a brazen affront to the organization and a metaphorical middle finger to its fans. The days of writing off his behavior as quirky are over. He's robbing the Red Sox and more than indirectly contributing to the cost of baseball's highest tickets.
A "metaphorical middle finger to its fans?" There's a calm, dispassionate phrase.
As for that economic idiocy at the end, he is NOT "more than indirectly contributing to the cost of baseball's highest tickets." He is indirectly contributing, but not more than that. They've sold virtually every ticket that they have for the past several years. If Manny dropped his salary to $0, does John Tomase think that ticket prices would fall by so much as a nickel? Is John Henry an idiot?
Indirectly, of course, Manny does contribute to the ticket prices. Without Manny and other players of his caliber, there wouldn't be the same demand for the tickets, and the prices would probably (eventually) come down. But Manny's $20 million per year has no effect on what they're charging - if he was getting $40 million or $40,000, it wouldn't change the fundamentals that set the ticket prices.
Or does John Tomase think that Final Four tickets are free because the players don't get paid?
The latest dustup stems from Saturday's 2-0 loss to the Pirates. Soft-throwing left-hander Dave Williams plunked Ramirez above the left ankle in the third inning. Down went Manny.
Out came manager Terry Francona and trainer Jim Rowe as Ramirez attempted to steady himself on his bat: He reached his feet but remained doubled over.
To the surprise of more than one member of the front office and no doubt many teammates as well, Ramirez took first. But the wheels were turning, the opportunity to take the rest of the evening off too tempting.
Two innings later brought the inevitable. Kevin Millar moved TO left, Kevin Youkilis manned first and Manny called it a night.
Did you talk to a trainer John? Find out if the injury was, maybe, real? A baseball off the non-padded bone above the ankle - couldn't that conceivably be a real injury?
It's not the first time he's pulled such a stunt and it won't be the last. According to a clubhouse source, teammates seethed when Ramirez left a game against the Mariners on May 8 three innings after getting hit in the thigh by a Joel Pineiro pitch.
They wondered how Ramirez could in good conscience take a day off while right fielder Trot Nixon played on a knee requiring surgery. They wondered how he could live with himself when center fielder Johnny Damon played through enough bumps and bruises to land on the disabled list.
Frankly, they were stunned a day later when a Dan Haren slider glanced off Ramirez' batting helmet but didn't lead to a minivacation.
All of this may sound a bit over the top given the fact that Ramirez has missed only four games all season.
Gee - you think so?
But the front office's exasperation is palpable.
They're so frustrated that no one will go on the record with any kind of comment at all, not even a deep-background quote. Not a Gammons' style "anonymous GM" quote. Not a single "someone with connections to the Red Sox front office" quote. It's palpable to John Tomase, but no one else has any of it, and none of the people traveling with the team back it up. Forgive my skepticism...
Ramirez may rank among the league leaders in homers and RBIs, but the bulk of his production has come in a trio of fourgame stretches that account for 11 of his 14 homers and 26 of his 51 RBIs.
Cherry-picking. Multiple end-points statistical manipulation of the most dishonest kind. (Believe me, I know, having done it myself...) His 16 home runs (before tonight) have come in 14 games. Whether those were in 3 groups of 5 or scattered evenly throughout the season is utterly irrelevant to their value to their team, and says nothing about whether Manny does or does not "care."
So while the fans take out their frustration on players like Millar and Mark Bellhorn, who barely make $6 million a year between them, Ramirez coasts along, hitting .260,
No one's claiming that he's having a vintage Manny season. It's called a slump. They happen to everyone. Through 1989, Wade Boggs career average was .352. In 1990, he hit .302. Did that mean he didn't care? Or was it just a down year?
disappearing in the clutch
For what it's worth, his "close and late" OPS is .878, virtually the same as his overall OPS.
and taking the occasional day off.
Very occasional. Fewer than anyone else on the team other than Ortiz. John Tomase's obviously got a problem with Manny's salary, but providing no evidence whatsoever that we're dealing with anything other than a slump. Which happens to everyone.
In an unfortunate bit of timing yesterday, the center field scoreboard featured Ramirez as the Red Sox Hero between the second and third innings.
He was chilling in the dugout, presumably icing his bruised leg, adding 63 cents to his change purse with every tick of the second hand.
And there we are, back to the salary again. He's obviously got a problem with what Manny's making, which is just foolish. Every baseball player's overpaid. A large number of players can be made to look foolish, or greedy, or overpaid by playing that game.
"The Red Sox played 6 games this week. David Wells made $49,382.72 for the one that he pitched. He made $49,382.72 for each of the 5 that he sat in the dug-out and watched."
So does that fixation on the salary tell you more about Manny Ramirez or John Tomase? No question about it, is there...
The All-Star break looms. Be fully prepared for Manny to extend it by a game or two in either direction, just as he did in 2003 and 2004.
You know, because he cares.
If he doesn't, John, you've offered no proof. You've offered no evidence. You've offered nothing whatsoever other than childish salary-sniping.
Anyway, as I said, he appeared on WEEI later in the week, and just made things worse.
First, in response to a comment from Glenn Ordway that the fans have accepted Manny for what he is:
Yeah, now see - that’s what I have a big issue with. Why - why is that acceptable? Well that’s like saying, you know, Jeffery Dahmer’s had people in his freezer for a while now, so, you know, that’s what he does.
This is not a very bright human being, or very aware. After a week with everyone pounding on Dick Durbin for his horribly inapt comparisons, he wants to compare a baseball player leaving a game after being hit to a cannibalistic serial killer? I don't think so. Horribly over-the-top. Really inexcusable hyperbole.
A little later, Steve Burton went after him.
SB: "When you say Manny doesn't care, Manny's one of the hardest workers on the team. Do you ever see him working away from things?"
JT: "Absolutely. But these are two distinct things right here."
SB: "Wait a minute - how come that's not in this piece?"
JT: "Because that was not the point of this piece."
You just have to laugh. The whole article, the point is that Manny doesn't care. He doesn't have any evidence, but he does know that Manny's one of the hardest workers on the team, and none of that makes it in because "that was not the point of this piece."
And there was this beauty:
I've seen how he acts. We could go through the litany of All Star breaks, leaving early for the sick grandma, or last year with the hamstring, where he basically took July off.
The Red Sox played 26 games in July last year. Manny played in 24, and hit .299/.410/.621/1.030 with 10 2B, 6 HR and 22 RBI. I don't know what he's talking about, but that's fair, because he doesn't know what he's talking about either.
Even this year he's been disinterested on the field for much of the season. Disinterested to me? Swinging early in the count like he was doing. Being one of the easiest outs in the game late in the game which is what he had been doing up until the last, like, 3 or 4 weeks.
It sounds damning. The problem is, it's just not true. He was fine through the middle of May, just missing a half dozen singles. Everything else in stat line was fine, including his pitches per plate appearance (where he's still very close to his career average anyway.) Then he had a 3-4 week stretch where he did
change his approach, and start swinging more and stop walking. It sure didn't look like disinterest to me - I think he got concerned about everyone talking about his batting average and started pressing.
As to the "easy out late in games", I don't buy it. However MLB.com divides it up in their stats, he's got 17 at-bats against right-handed pitching in "close and late" situations, with 9 hits and a walk. He's 1-6 in that situation against lefties, for a total of 10-23 with a walk. I don't think that's an "easy out."
So finally, they got to pressing him about the big question - "how is he any different than he's been since day 1?"
Well, I think the big thing is, we're glossing over the fact that he has not produced to a level commensurate with his abilities for the last year.
Yes, he's had a down period, where he's been merely very good instead of outstanding. How does that prove that he "does not care?"
Larry Johnson: "Have you talked to any trainers?"
John Tomase: "No, no trainers, no."
It went on. And on. And on. They kept pressing him on what's changed, what's his evidence for Manny being disinterested. All he had to offer was that Manny's had a down period of production. And anonymous people with vague complaints.
It was a woeful performance. He was awful in the paper, he was awful on the radio, and he gives no impression of having any idea what he was talking about. For the first time in 3 years, I wish our subscription to the Eagle-Tribune hadn't lapsed, because I'd love to call and cancel...