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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Bonfire of the Vain and Navel Gazing Sports Scribes

Tim and I don't disagree often, but on "MannyGate," we do.

First, why is this passing situation getting any attention at all? Why aren't talk radio hosts and writer-analysts more interested and concerned with the fact that the team's No. 1 Starter almost got his head taken off and killed last night? Or that "Shaky" Schilling limped his way to another save, courtesy of Johnny Damon and a quirk in the layout of the Tampa Bay outfield wall?

Manny asked for and was given a day off. Francona did ask him to re-consider and play. Manny said, respectfully I am sure, no, he wanted the day off. Francona could have ordered him to play, fine him, or suspend him, or cook up some other punishment. He chose to do nothing.....Because nothing was called for. If this was a big deal, his teammates would have called him on it - so far they haven't. Manny needed a day off. Don't you need one once in a while? If his manager and teammates understand, then what business is it of ours? (and PLEASE don't mention Manny salary unless you also want to talk about his production stats in the same breath; Wouldn't YOU have taken the $160 million if someone offered it to you?)

Manny is leading the AL in home runs and RBI despite having a down year in average. His outfield play, occasional gaffes aside, has steadily improved during his time in Boston (and he leads the league in OF assists folks). He is the second part of the best one-two lineup punch in the AL with Pappi Ortiz. How many game-winning hits has he had?

Manny doesn't whine to the media like some players we know. Manny doesn't fawn over every microphone or pose for every camera he sees like some players we know. Yes, Manny is a "man child," as one scribe called him. But he produces at the plate when it counts, more than any Red Sox player in recent memory since perhaps Jim Rice - another player the media couldn't get warm to and whipped unnecessarily.

This team is without its No. 1 Starter (Schilling), without its Closer (Foulke), is going into the Stretch Run - and has had assorted nagging injuries to position and bullpen players - and now Nixon and Clement are ailing. Don't the baseball writers, Talk Show hosts, and other "learned," and "esteemed," observers have any more pertinent and insightful issues to pay attention to these days other than Manny takes a day off? If they don't, then it is they who all need some time off to assess what the hell they are really doing with the public airwaves, the public trust, and the grey matter so generously given to them by same force that made Manny, Manny..