Friday, August 01, 2008

Manny and Jason Bay: The Morning After

Robin was so overwhelmed by grief that he had no choice but to drown his sorrows last night in copious amounts of alcohol; he'll be back in action tonight. Instead, now that I've had a few hours to process, I'll give my thoughts. I'll start with a story:

Four years ago yesterday, I went to a party at the house of a friend from college in Swampscott, Massachusetts. Not seconds after I got out of the car, DC ran up and gave me the news: the Red Sox had traded Nomar in a three-way blockbuster deal that replaced our beloved OCD-laden shortstop with some guy from Montreal we'd never heard of. My jaw dropped and in shock, words traveled from brain to lips without filter: "How the **** can they trade Nomar?"

Thanks to advances in Internet technology, the end of trade season's falling on a workday, and an assemblage of friends with itchy text message fingers, Manny's impending demise in a Boston uni was easier to track, but I felt - I still feel - how I felt that weekend day in 2004: "How the **** can they trade Manny?" The answer's rhetorical, of course: hitting stud or no, it's clear Manny was unhappy in his current work environment. The press was against him, he'd bashed management far too many times to really hold their support, and from what we can tell from the papers, his teammates were tired of him, too (Interesting side note on the teammates thing: a friend I talked to this morning speculated that Papi's long absence might have removed some of the shielding that keeps Manny from being too much Manny). The end result was the logical solution and finding a replacement of any kind is an added bonus. Heck, we should be glad he's in the NL, on a team that's had a lot of trouble making it past the first round of the playoffs.

Will this trade kill our hopes for a 2008 repeat? Part of me hopes that this desperation move will be some more history repeating, spawning yet another magical August run up to October that will again make Theo look like a genius and Manny another addition to a string of players (Nomar, Pedro, Damon) who the Sox dumped at just the right time. However, there's another part of me that knows that Nomar was having a poor year in 2004 (WARP, to pick a good overall statistic, was far below his 2002 and 2003 totals), while Manny is hitting better in 2008 than he did last year. We won't really know until November, but yesterday's desperation move may be the dumbest thing the Sox have done in a long time.

So happy trails, Manny. We'll always have 2004 and 2007, the power combo with Big Papi, the high five on the Millar catch in May, the game winning single in 2006, the walk-off homer from the second game of the 2007 ALDS...on and on and on. Eight years of memories, some fun, some wacky, some glorious, some all three...we'll look back on them and forget the bad times like they never happened. Good luck in LA.