Sunday, August 3, 2008

Dog Days of Summer

For the past few years of my life, I have been able to write on a fairly consistent basis- whether it be for classes, the URI newspaper or the Globe. Now that I've graduated and am jobless, I have realized how much I miss putting my thoughts into word form. The purpose of this blog will be threefold: 1. to get me writing again, I've worked as a concierge at a hotel all summer and haven't written anything since June; 2. spark some debate in terms of sports news, if you know me I'm pretty opinionated and I hope those who read this will leave comments or interact with me in some manner; 3. every once in a while I'll delve into the transition from a college student to being in the "real world"

A Bitter End to the Manny Era

Seeing as this is mainly a sports blog and I'm a die-hard Sox fan, the subject of one Manuel Aristides Ramirez needs to be brought up. I'll start this off with the memory of the day Manny signed with the Sox. I was a freshman in high school and I was ecstatic with the deal; no one my age had ever seen a hitter the likes of Manny in Boston. The Nomar's and Mo Vaughn's of the world were very good hitters but neither could change a game the way Manny could. He offered a ray of hope to a Boston lineup that featured such stalwarts as Darren Lewis or Bernard Gilkey. We have to remember that, while he was well-compensated, Manny's presence in the lineup really started to change the culture around here.

Throughout his time here he had some great moments- his game-winning homerun off of Barry Zito in game 5 of the '03 ALDS, monster series against the Angels in '04, World Series MVP the same year and his torrid '07 postseason. Combine those with a string of .300, 30+ hr, 100 RBI seasons and one would be under the impression fans would be clearing space on Yawkey Way for a bronze Manny statue featuring his afterswing after a breathtaking homerun. Unfortunately for everyone involved, the tape measure homeruns and prodigious amount of runs driven in came with a price that became steeper every season: clubhouse unity. Manny's selfish attitude was never headline material four or five years ago for a few reasons. The first was the Sox already had a Latino star causing drama in the great Pedro Martinez (albeit a different type of drama; he would've never quit on his teammates, just complained about his contract to the media). Secondly, there was the brotherhood known as "The Idiots" residing in the Boston locker room. Manny could laugh from the distance and take games off while Johnny Damon and Kevin Millar were creating a cohesive atmosphere. By 2006, "The Idiots" were gone and "Manny being Manny" suddenly wasn't as cute or funny.

When Peter Gammons reported that David Ortiz pled with Manny to return in August of '06 to return from his "injury" and Manny refused, I can honestly say I was shocked and embarassed on Manny's behalf. Here's David Ortiz, in the midst of a record-setting season in which he could have broken Roger Maris's record of 61 homeruns in the Junior Circuit, asking for his overpaid teammate just to play. Stunning. Papi ended up with 54 dingers that year, the Sox an embarrassing 3rd place and Manny watching from his TV set. Actually, just kidding. Manny was probably watching I Love the 80's instead of seeing his team crumble down the stretch.

You already know the type of things that have transpired this year so I won't talk about them. The only thing I'll mention about the '08 version of Manny is the fact that his bat speed has declined markedly. The lineup will obviously miss him protecting David Ortiz but in the end Jason Bay and his 30 homerun power will be a suitable replacement because he tries every game and every play. Weird notion for the Red Sox starting left fielder huh?

Manny could have taken two routes in exiting Boston, which was inevitable. Pedro left after pitching his heart out in the '04 playoffs and for the most part had an amiable breakup with the Sox. He didn't create a huge distraction in the club even though in was obvious the two sides would be parting ways that off season. I'll remember him for being the greatest pitcher ever to put on a Boston uniform, not for the way he left. Then there's Nomar, who sulked his way out of Boston and will be remembered more for his selfishness and overall unhappiness than capturing a pair of batting titles and destroying Cleveland pitching in the 1998/1999 postseasons. Sadly enough, Manny went down teammate-once-more Nomar's road and left Boston in a cowardly manner.

Have fun in L.A. Manny. You could have been an absolute legend in Boston but have fun in La La Land, where the Men in Blue and White have won a grand total of one postseason game since 1988.

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