"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Our Lady of Perpetual Agony


While much of the country is glued to their computer screens and TV sets watching the Michael Jackson memorial in what already seems to be an endless mourning (cashing in) period, here is the irrespressible Charles Pierce on the return of Manny Ramirez:

I thought the hype ladled onto Manny’s return was excessive, even by ESPN’s elephantine standards for excess. (I mean, honestly, breaking into ESPNews for every minor league at-bat? What if there had been a sudden fantasy-baseball emergency somewhere?) That’s Bonds treatment. Or A-Rod. I always thought Manny Ramirez was a notch below them as a subject for hyperpituitary voyeurism. However, it was of a piece with Manny’s greatest gift as a professional athlete—his innate ability to make everything about baseball that is self-reverentially loathsome look ridiculous. In the great, hushed temple that baseball is perennially building for itself in its own mind, it’s Manny’s who provides the dribble glasses, the whoopee cushions, and the exploding cigars. It is his holy mission to take the living piss out of the self-important, the moralistic, and the people who cling to baseball in order to defend their inherent right to be 13 years old for the rest of their lives.

…At his best—not as a hitter but as a public person—Manny Ramirez always has been most valuable in his ability to be a walking (if an occasionally completely unwitting) satire on baseball’s pretensions, which sorely need to be mocked on a very regular basis. He worked to fashion himself into one of the most feared hitters in the game. By any reasonable standard, he has “respected his talent” a hell of a lot more than did, say, Mickey Mantle, who left too many of his best days on a barstool in Manhattan. Without ever being completely aware of it, he spoofed the whole notion of baseball “professionalism,” which should have been left a bleached pile of bones by the side of the road back in 1970, when Jim Bouton published Ball Four. He was more than a flake. Flakes—like Bill Lee or Moe Drabowsky—generally are aware that they’re flakes. They glory in it. Manny is something sui generis—as natural and instinctive an eccentric as he is a hitter.

Share: Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email %PRINT_TEXT


1 Jon Weisman   ~  Jul 7, 2009 2:37 pm

Great and perceptive writing.

2 PJ   ~  Jul 7, 2009 2:45 pm

Today's Yankees Haiku by PJ

Manny ain't no Mick,

drunk, sober, or otherwise!

Two tools versus five.

3 ms october   ~  Jul 7, 2009 2:53 pm

thanks for linking the piece alex. i have been on a slate boycott , so wouldn't have found it on my own.

it was an interesting piece. manny is someone i find very interesting. not sure i totally agree with the notion that manny "abandoned that role" though. the role somewhat abandoned him.

not exactly sure about the comparison/contrast to mantle either.
but nevertheless interesting take.

4 Alex Belth   ~  Jul 7, 2009 3:01 pm

Why are you boycotting Slate? I don't know enough about it to have an opinion one way or another. I have liked some of the stuff I've read there over the years but don't know it well enough to have a real opinion.

5 monkeypants   ~  Jul 7, 2009 3:03 pm

I don't find Manny particularly interesting or compelling. he either willingly acts like a goof or a fool while knowing he has cover because of his great talent (i.e., he's mocking us), or he really is an oblivious goof or fool. In either case, I seriously question the value in heroicizing goofs and fools.

The dude can hit, though, and that is for darn sure.

6 ms october   ~  Jul 7, 2009 3:18 pm

[5] i can certainly understand that take. i personally find him interesting, but don't think he (nor really anyone for that matter) should be "herocized"

[4] well i probably went a little extreme, but while the hbo series the wire was on, slate used to have these 2 guys email each other back and forth about the most recent episode. while at the beginning i found their exchanges to be a bit annoying because these obviously middle-aged well-off white guys co-opted a bit too much street talk and persona, they were nevertheless fairly intersting and willing to provide relatively open analysis and insight. then in the last season of the show in which the media's complicitness in the decline of urban areas, institutions, living wages, etc, was the focus - these two guys who were part of the media got extremely holier than thou and didn't even attempt to self-reflect about the state of the media today and how money, prestige, etc drives too much in the media. they became pretty beligirent about it and it really illustrated to me a lot of the flaws that exist in the media.
then slate began running these cross-posted articles in newsweek (they are all owned by the same conglomerate), which just confirmed my disgust with monopolistic and corporate driven media practices.
(sorry for the lengthiness of the response alex - the fact that much of the media is unaccountable to what they write or do not write, yet loves calling on others to be accountable is just something that really irks me)

7 seamus   ~  Jul 7, 2009 3:23 pm

[6] interesting. I didn't see the Wire live but saw it via Netflix after the fact. So I missed the whole Slate back and forth (or never thought to be interested in it). I haven't visited slate in a long time anyhow. Are you looking forward to Treme (new series by creator of The Wire)? I'm pretty excited.

8 a.O   ~  Jul 7, 2009 3:31 pm

Manny Ramirez is a disgrace to the game.

9 Rich   ~  Jul 7, 2009 3:32 pm

My favorite Manny quote was when the RS were facing elimination at the hands of the Indians in 2007, and he said:

"It doesn't happen, so who cares? There's always next year. It's not like it's the end of the world."

A-Rod might benefit if he adopted that mindset in the postseasn.

I can't boycott Slate because I would miss reading Dahlia Lithwick.

10 ms october   ~  Jul 7, 2009 3:33 pm

[7] yeah treme seems like it will be really interesting. i tried to get into generation kill (also by simon) but i just have so little interest in military shows/movies, i never really got into it. you should watch the corner on netflix too if you haven't already.

11 seamus   ~  Jul 7, 2009 3:39 pm

[10] I never heard of Generation kill. But I also tend to not be as fond of military shows/movies. Not familiar with the corner either. Is that Simon or just similar genre to the Wire?

12 The Hawk   ~  Jul 7, 2009 3:43 pm

Love Man Ram, despite his thuggish final days in a Red Sox uniform.

He's definitely a space cadet, but not stupid.

13 The Hawk   ~  Jul 7, 2009 3:46 pm

Oh yeah and the Mantle comparison is clearly nothing to do with a talent match up but rather how each player respected his own talent. In the writer's opinion, Mantle was less respectful, judging by some of his behavior.

14 Shaun P.   ~  Jul 7, 2009 3:47 pm

The more Charlie Pierce I read, the more I like him. Outstanding writer, solid take on reality. The paragraph in between the two Alex block quoted is perfect. It captures my feelings on all this PED stuff very, very well.

[9] Agreed all around.

15 ms october   ~  Jul 7, 2009 3:49 pm

[11] yeah the corner is simon. also a bit similar in genre to the wire - but much more narrowly focussed on how drugs ravaged a family and a corner. it is about a 6 or so show mini-series based on the book he wrote (also called the corner)

[13] yeah i figured that was what he was trying to say - i just don't necessarily think it is an apt comparison.

16 Alex Belth   ~  Jul 7, 2009 3:54 pm

Pierce is one of a kind. "Don't try this at home, kids" kind of writer. He's at his best when he writes about hoops, I think.

17 rbj   ~  Jul 7, 2009 3:56 pm

Kind of interesting how the media acted towards A-Rod being singled out during what I hope was the tail end of the steroids era, and Manny getting caught flat footed when steroids are now verboten. A-Rod's condemned as a cheater, Manny gets the "welcome back, goofball, luv ya."

I guess it just comes down to their personalities.

18 seamus   ~  Jul 7, 2009 3:59 pm

[15] ok cool. I dropped it in my cue. The Wire is one of my all time favorite shows so I'm sure i'll like it.

19 seamus   ~  Jul 7, 2009 4:03 pm

[18] umm. queue.

20 ms october   ~  Jul 7, 2009 4:05 pm

[18] yeah me too, i could still talk endlessly about it - hope you enjoy the corner

21 RagingTartabull   ~  Jul 7, 2009 4:12 pm

"Ya got to man...this is America"

"Thin line between heaven and here"

"The King stay the king"


sorry... I just had to get those out.

22 The Hawk   ~  Jul 7, 2009 4:12 pm

[15] It's more a contrast than comparison. The idea being that Mantle is revered even though he didn't respect his own talent as much as Manny, who is thought of as a clown. I don't think it's personal to Mantle; there are plenty of others who could fill out that equation.

23 monkeypants   ~  Jul 7, 2009 4:16 pm

[13] The thing is, I never got the sense that anyone criticizes/-ed Manny for not respecting his own talent. Rather, he seems to catch heat fro not respecting the game. Now, one may still appreciate that Manny thumbs his nose at such old-school and self-righteous notions as "playing the game right" or "respecting the game." But I think the "respect his talent" line is bogus, and thus the comparison to Mantle in these terms is a stretch.

24 ms october   ~  Jul 7, 2009 4:18 pm

[17] i think manny controls the media far better than alex has done most of his career. contrast their press-conferences - alex's in spring training and manny's upon his return this week. alex was on the defensive - trying to justify himself, and allowing the media to dictate the tenor of the event. wheras manny came in, with almost no handlers the way alex did, said what he had to say, refused to say what he didn't want to say, and left. manny was in control the entire time.
now - someone may say alex is treated differently, this is certainly true, but he somewhat has allowed this to happen over time. also, manny is protrayed poorly quite often - but he doesn't care or doesn't show he cares what is written about him - so he doesn't feed the monster.
since seamus has indulged my wire kick, it's like wife told him - "if you do not play you cannot lose" - manny doesn't play the media's game.

25 monkeypants   ~  Jul 7, 2009 4:19 pm

[22] Maybe you're right, but then I don't see the relevance of the contrast. It obscures rather than illuminates, in my opinion.

26 ms october   ~  Jul 7, 2009 4:23 pm

[24] daniel's wife for the wire heads

[21] :}
day at a time is s'pose

[25] yeah i am with you on this mp

27 The Hawk   ~  Jul 7, 2009 4:30 pm

[22] It illuminates the idea that for all the criticism he receives, Manny is good for the game. People get on Manny for all sorts of reasons, and the writer's simply saying hey, greater players than Manny have had serious flaws that he doesn't. In a piece that is essentially a defense of Manny, what could be more relevant?

28 thelarmis   ~  Jul 7, 2009 4:42 pm

Robbie moved down to 7th:

Jeter SS
Damon LF
Teixeira 1B
Rodriguez 3B
Matsui DH,
Swisher RF
Cano 2B
Gardner CF
Cervelli C

29 The Hawk   ~  Jul 7, 2009 4:49 pm

[28] Good.

30 seamus   ~  Jul 7, 2009 4:55 pm

[26] oh good, thanks for the reference. I was having trouble placing the quote at first. That show was full of them.

[21] hell yeah. classic!

[28] oh this is a baseball blog? hehe. Cano was 7th on Sunday and 6th yesterday to boot.

31 monkeypants   ~  Jul 7, 2009 4:57 pm

[27] Because the terms of comparison create a straw man. Here is the exact quote:

By any reasonable standard, he has “respected his talent” a hell of a lot more than did, say, Mickey Mantle, who left too many of his best days on a barstool in Manhattan.

Why is "respect his talent" in quotes, unless the author is implying that this is a charge made commonly against Manny. yet I have never once heard this said (or seen it written). No one that I know of claims that Manny disrespects his own talent, they claim that he disrespects the game. This is a charge, meanwhile, that I have never heard made against mantle.

Now, if the author wants to say that Manny's supposed disrespect for the game is not as bad--or at least no worse--than Mantle's disrespect of his own talent, then say so explicitly. If the author wants to say that Mantle's disrespect of his own talent is itself an affront to the game as bad or worse than Manny's, then say so explicitly.

But to posit the comparison as he did, complete with quotes, at best obscures the point being made about Manny, and at worst holds up a straw man to be pushed over. In any case, it strikes me as lazy writing and/or thinking.

32 ms october   ~  Jul 7, 2009 5:03 pm

[31] you know thinking about this mp, i think he is conflating or equating "respecting his talent" with "respecting the game"

33 monkeypants   ~  Jul 7, 2009 5:05 pm

[32] I agree. That's why I see it is a bit of lazy writing/thinking, at least in that one paragraph. I don't have a strong feeling about the rest of the piece.

34 OldYanksFan   ~  Jul 7, 2009 5:23 pm

I'm not sure I can equate Mickey's drinking and partying to not respecting his talent. Maybe Mick didn't take his numbers too seriously, as I think he viewed baseball more as a way to get out of the coal mines, and maybe saw baseball as 'just a game', not the holy grail. Mick's father and Grandfather both died before they hit 40, so I think Mickey was just trying to get 50 years of living into 20 years. As he said before he died: "If I knew I was going to live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself. "

For Manny, I separate the pre-trade "Clown Years" from the extortion he pulled on the Sox. As a clown, you could give Manny the benefil of the doubt, and credit him for a Zen-like attitude. It's not traditional, but I can buy it.

But what he did to the Sox was a calculated move to squeeze a few years/few dollars out of the situation. They did pay him $160m for 8 years. He did sign off on 1 and/or 2 option years at $20m per. IMHO, his behavior to force the Sox into trading him, was unforgivable. Imagine if other players did that. Maybe down the road, Alex or Tex would want out of NY. Imagine them pulling that shit, after being rewarded huge guaranteed contracts.

I find it hard to believe MLB did not heavily sanction and fine Manny for what he did to the Sox. It's more of a shit in the mouth then a spit in the eye. I would have banned him from the game.

35 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Jul 7, 2009 5:52 pm

The buzz today is Halladay being available and Ricciardi open to offers, having briefed Doc that this is going to happen (discussions, not a deal for sure). Someone has already posted Highes + 2 'good' minor leaguers as what the Yanks should do.

Me, I'd be flabbergasted if that got even a chuckle from Ricciardi. Halladay is the best around.

So the question is, how much would Banterers give to get him? What will it take? He'll cost CC-money after making about 15 million next year. (Maybe 2-3 years shorter) Or would we rather he mosey over to the Phillies (the other touted team chasing and with money and prospects). For this year ... Wang is possibly done, Pettitte is fading, Joba iffy ...

36 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Jul 7, 2009 5:52 pm

Hughes, not Highes, Jeez.

37 seamus   ~  Jul 7, 2009 5:54 pm

[35] I'm of the opinion that a deal for Doc would be too expensive.

38 sonyahennystutu   ~  Jul 7, 2009 5:58 pm

pete abe reporting that we released angel berroa. interesting. i guess that settles that debate!

and ace taking the next wang start.

39 RIYank   ~  Jul 7, 2009 5:59 pm

[35] I suggested Montero, straight up, in an earlier thread.

[38] Great news!

40 monkeypants   ~  Jul 7, 2009 6:13 pm

[35] Doc is 32, has a significant injury history, and he's a free agent in a year-and-a-half. I want no part of any trade for him because the Jays will be able to extort more than maximum value for him. The Yankees will get fleeced on almost any deal they would make.

41 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Jul 7, 2009 6:25 pm


a) The FA aspect has to be built-in, he'd be negotiating an extension ith any team that signed him.

b) the injury history is an odd thing to say for a guy who logs 220+ most seasons. In 04-05 he was DLed (one was a broken leg, which is not a 'history', one was a tired arm) but since then he has been as Iron Man as any pitcher imaginable. We can get 'oh, that means he's due to break down' but we can also note that guys with 4 (5!) pitches and the size and smarts he has and the durability are as likely to be Ryan-types.

I see no one better than Doc in the game. Age would limit me to a 3-4 year extension, to age 37 or so, but I'd feel pretty secure doing that. Complete class act.

c) Well, yeah, if they get fleeced it is a bad deal. I, um, agree! The question was, what's a fleecing?

42 monkeypants   ~  Jul 7, 2009 6:32 pm

[41] Well, except for the DL this season. And his limited appearances in 2000 and 2001. So, we are talking about injuries of some form or another in five out of 11 full seasons. Plus, when he has been healthy, he has logged a ton of innings--this can be seen as a good news-bad news observation.

Basically what I am saying is that I have very little faith that he will age well, and he is already 32.

As for what's a fleecing, I think just about any trade that involves high level prospects will be a lopsided victory in the Jays favor. If anything, I would rather the Yankees sit tight and see if they can't sign him as a FA (at age 34) to a three year deal, and hang on to their prospects.

43 OldYanksFan   ~  Jul 7, 2009 6:33 pm

We already have a ton of $$$ wrapped up in CC and AJ. Joba and Phil look like SPs to me. We have some other decent arms on the farm, and pitchers are the only thing left in the draft, by the time we get to pick.

Sure, everybody would love a Doc Halliday. The guy is the goods, no question. But as long as he doesn't go to the Sox, I'm happy to pass. If he goes to the NL, that much the better.

Long term/big dollar contracts are always riskier with a P then a position player. With as inflexible as our roster is, I think the Halliday's of the world are out of the question. It will be a HUGE buyers market this FA season, and maybe next. Salary dumps will abound. I'd rather we get a sweet deal (meaning cheap) on a reliable #3 or #4, they pay with blood for Halliday.

44 OldYanksFan   ~  Jul 7, 2009 6:37 pm

Hoss... the Yankees had 3 position players worth waiting for. Tabata is now gone, so AJax and Montero is all that is left. You want to trade the better of the 2 for a pitcher.... when we already have CC and company? I mean, Halliday is sexy, but do you really think we should trade our prized youth for him? I say throw a NL team $5m to get him out of our division and feel lucky.

(Wow... your take on this is sooooo un-1965)

45 OldYanksFan   ~  Jul 7, 2009 6:43 pm

One sensitive Jay's fan on the record:

46 The Hawk   ~  Jul 7, 2009 8:01 pm

[31] Down the rabbit hole, my friend!

47 williamnyy23   ~  Jul 7, 2009 8:05 pm

Besides not having to face him anymore, one of the best things about the Red Sox dealing Manny was that I'd now be able to root for a fantastic player. Ironically, I find myself rooting for him even more after the suspension because it's the best way to thumb my nose at the sanctimonious media and hypocritical MLB executive class.

48 williamnyy23   ~  Jul 7, 2009 8:10 pm

[34] I couldn't disagree with your take anymore. For years, the Red Sox let it be known that they didn't want Manny, despite the fact that he was their single biggest contributor. After all of his contributions, all he wanted that season was to know for sure whether or not the Sox would pick up the options. In the meantime, all he did was lead the team in most offensive categories. Sure, maybe he exaggerated an injury and missed a game or two, but that wouldn't exactly be something new in the game. Manny was definitely well paid, but he also was a prolific producer. Loyalty is a two way street.

49 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Jul 7, 2009 8:48 pm

[34,48] William, I agree with you on this. Manny led the Sox to TWO championships..and look at his stats when he was supposedly "dogging it" last summer! Players don't owe management anything..Sox tried to get rid of him several times anyway..

feed Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email
"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver