Monday, July 10, 2006

WEEI, Manny's Knee and the All Star Game

I listened, off and on, yesterday morning to WEEI's Sunday morning "baseball show" with Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald, Sean Macadam of the Providence Journal and WEEI nighttime host Mike Adams. Adams is very popular with some segments of the population for reasons that don't entirely escape me, though his appeal does. I understand that some people find him amusing. Hell, he clearly finds himself amusing. I'm not sure I've ever listened to anyone who's more entertained by the sound of his own voice, and whether what he's saying has any relation to reality or not seems to interest him not a whit - if he can amuse himself saying something, it will be said. And, of course, Buckley is another who absolutely swoons at the sound of his own voice. Occasionally, Macadam gets a word in, which is generally more intelligible and intelligent than what surrounds it, but on the whole, it really is pretty much of a mess, generating far more heat than light.

As I say, while doing errands, I listened off and on. The topic of the day, with the general WEEI philosophy of extreme attention to irrelevant details, was Manny Ramirez' sore knee, and failure to appear at the All Star game. Let us just say that Manny's injury was treated as a phantom, an excuse for taking 3 days off, and Adams and Buckley, and most of the callers, took great umbrage. Now, just speaking for myself, I couldn't possibly care less. Whether Manny is there has no impact on my watching the game tomorrow, nor, I suspect, anyone else's. In terms of "competitive" issues, it's tough to see how Magglio Ordonez going in place of Manny Ramirez is more damaging to the AL than Mark Redman going instead of Francisco Liriano. For example.

And the callers! My lord, one after another, echoing the hosts back at them! What scintillating radio! Had I been in the car for more than about 5 minutes at a time, I'd no doubt have changed it away. The funniest call comes when the guy says, in the last 15 minutes of the show, "I haven't been listening all morning, so I hope no one else has made these points," and he then proceeds to echo the same thing that Buckley, Adams and 80% of the callers have been saying for 3 hours.

But the big thing that got on my nerves is the assumption that there's nothing wrong with his knee, nothing at all, and that this is a recently made up "injury" simply to get him out of the game. Buckley, in particular, flat-out stated that there was nothing wrong with his knee. Which is what the Fox broadcasters had been saying the previous day (from Will Carroll's Under The Knife report at BaseballProspectus.com):
The top vote getter is taking a disproportionate amount of heat for missing the game, even getting openly questioned on yesterday’s Fox telecast. Tim McCarver said the worst thing about his knee injury was “remembering which leg to limp with.”

But if the local guys - Buckley - are saying it, then why wouldn't the national guys? McCarver doesn't know anything about the Red Sox. He parachutes in, asks a couple of local guys what's going on, and speaks on TV as if he knows something. People completely ignore the fact that Manny missed time due to that knee at least as long as 6 weeks ago. (Here's a note from USA Today on May 29: "Manny Ramirez, who missed two games with a sore back and knee, is in left field for Monday night's game in Toronto.") And, it seems to me, that there was talk of Manny's knee being sore even earlier than that, but I can't find it.

Anyway, back to Will Carroll:
It’s easy to say that Ramirez is faking an injury, but almost as easy to actually check on the injury. Ramirez is suffering from a small tear in the medial meniscus of his right knee. It’s an injury he can play with, but one that can “grind,” a bone-on-bone situation that is unpredictable and painful. The decision was made a while ago by the Red Sox to keep Manny on the field as much as possible.

I know that's Will Carroll's "gig," his job, to keep track of injury information on all Major League players. But if Will can find out that Manny's got a tear in his right meniscus, how can Steve Buckley go on the Red Sox flagship station and claim that he's not injured?

And if anyone were to point it out to Steve, would we expect an apology? No, what we'd get is something to the effect of "at this point in the season, everyone's got owie's - if he can play for Boston, he could go to Pittsburgh." Which is, I suppose, technically true. The question is, is it a big deal? I don't think so...


Update: I was sure that there were earlier reports of knee problems with Manny. Here's Will Carroll again, Under The Knife on May 11.
Manny Ramirez left Tuesday’s game early, ostensibly to rest a sore knee. The knee has bothered him for a while, swelling slightly and becoming painful when he stands too long. You’ll often see Ramirez moving around in the outfield, or even finding a place to sit down when possible. It’s nothing to worry about, even in the short term, since it isn't affecting other parts of his game. Pulling him from a blowout is just smart resource management on the part of Terry Francona.

With Johnny Damon, David Ortiz, Derek Jeter, almost anyone else, we'd be getting regular paeans to his "toughness," to "playing through the pain," to being a "gamer." Not Manny - no, he's a malingerer for taking the All Star Break off...


Update2: I just found Steve's Sunday column - in it, he said, and I quote, "Is he hurt a little? Sure. But it’s July. Everybody has aches and pains."

Nothing - NOTHING - if not predictable...





Technorati tags: Manny Ramirez, Steve Buckley, WEEI, All Star Game

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