Monday, July 28, 2008

Manny Versus the Knights of the Keyboard

Glad to see my prediction about slug fests in Boston came true, even if we lost one of them. Oh, and the close loss, too. It's like I'm a goddamn psychic or something.

But losing two out of three to the Yankees at home isn't important; beating on Manny Ramirez is! Red Sox sports pages are full of stories today adding their own twist to Manny's comments about his dissatisfaction with the supposedly adversarial relationship between himself and the owners of his contract, from Ken Davidoff's shrugs ("they've done this dance many times before") to Sean McAdam's full-blown blockbuster trade exploration (Manny for Pat Burrell sounds interesting, but only because Burrell's a rental having a career year) to Dan Shaughnessy's triumphant crowing. No doubt there's some meat to this story - I certainly don't deny that Manny said what he said - but what I find fascinating (and more than a bit repugnant) is how quickly these situations turn into a firestorm of ugly, escalating geometrically like the payload of a nuclear weapon. It's always the same, too: Manny says something, the press reacts, Manny reacts, the press reacts and all of the sudden it's World War III, sports writers want Manny's head on a pole (and they write like everyone else does, too) and Manny wants to play for a team where the local columnists have better things to do with their time than write scathing polemics.

Here's the real mindblower though: with the exception of last year (when we all rightly focused our ire on Eric Gagne and his string of disasters), Manny and the sports press have done this little dance every year since 2003. Every year the problem resolves itself, Manny goes back to hitting, the dogs go back to their kennels, and we wonder whether or not we'll have to deal with this same BS the next year, because we all know full well that Manny's a linchpin in the offense. You'd think by now that both sides would have learned enough self control to stop sniping at each other and keep these escalations from happening in the first place. Of course, that assumes two things: that Manny has the foresight to keep his mouth shut and that writers will stop waving their red capes at every possible opportunity. Somehow, I think that kind of self control is something neither side is willing to acquire.