Manny being Manny.
That was the phrase adopted by the Boston Red Sox front office to describe the various foibles that hovered around Manny Ramirez. Manny was a petulant man-child super star who was certainly high maintenance and the fact is in entertainment – and baseball is entertainment – you get the occasional diva.
Manny’s rap sheet was extensive and included assault on team personnel, questionable injuries, bizarre on field behaviors and the occasional dust-up with a teammate. At one time his litanies of behaviors and a staggering contract had Manny of the waiver wire. Just take my Manny – please!
A diva is worth the investment if results are as expected and Ramirez was flat-out one of the most élite run producers of his generation. Coupled with David Ortiz the one-two punch was instrumental in two World Series Championships. The Red Sox also had the perfect deflector shield in manager Terry Francona who tap danced around the land mine that was Manny. Toss in teammates who concentrated on getting the job done and Manny became a virtual no distraction for a good portion of his Boston tenure.
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Now Hanley Ramirez has joined the team and with it comes another rap sheet. Dogging it, clubhouse cancer and on and on are the sins that are real or perceived. Hanley has said all the right things about maturity and professionalism in an attempt to convince one and all that a baseball leopard has truly changed his spots.
The new third baseman, Pablo Sandoval, also has some intriguing personal issues in his past, but they are certainly not of the magnitude of the original Ramirez or of the latest version.
A team consists of twenty-five diverse backgrounds. You could have a college graduated second baseman with a DP partner from a barrio in a city no one would wish to visit. Baseball is certainly sports diversity in ethnic composition, race, economics and education. The idea is to somehow hope it will all mesh flawlessly. It will not.
Problems happen. Flare ups happen. Players get emotional about playing time, union issues, the post-game buffet and who is getting that fat check for doing nil. The same happens in all sports and even in little league through college you will have more than one child/adult bent on personal aggrandizement. Players tossed together for eight months develop cliques. That is a natural order of things and is not a bad thing since group unity will surface thanks to anything from an on field fracas or something as tragic as the Marathon bombing.
A manager in baseball is part priest, part Warden Norton, part shoulder to cry on and the one that has to choose what fires really need to be extinguished. I am sure John Farrell provides all those various services dependent upon just who needs a hug and who needs a swift butt kick.
I don’t worry one bit about the behaviors of the new hires. Panda was on three world Championship teams. Through the clubhouse osmosis I am confident Panada can fully comprehend what is expected from a 90M player. And, a firm ditto for Hanley. No repeat of beer and chicken.