No one wants to hear less about the ending of the season and the whys than fans that love the Sox. While I am officially no longer a member of this organization I have read and keep reading the “What if” stories as they relate to Manny and the team and the playoffs.
Enough has been said by anyone, and everyone, involved that it makes peoples ears bleed but it still appears a huge important piece to the puzzle is being missed.
First off anyone saying
Jason Bay is a nice player, but he’s not Manny.
is just not a very smart baseball person. Putting up the numbers he did in Pittsburgh has been vastly downplayed in my opinion. Yes his last year was less than stellar but in the Major Leagues that happens. Bottom line is this guy is a 30/100 above average on base guy who plays his ass off in the field and runs the bases hard and right. Is he Manny? Hell no, who is? Who has ever been? But he’s far more than a ‘nice player’. Nice players are guys that play 140 games, hit 275 and drive in some runs, and are good guys. This guy is a very good, very good player. Not only that but he proved the October limelight is not something that will make him wilt. Oh and he had a hell of a nice run the last few months in a market that couldn’t be more opposite than Pittsburgh.
That’s beside the initial point though. People are going to say, and have been saying, what if Manny had stayed? What if Manny had done what he did in LA, in Boston? If TJ Siemers can crawl out of Manny’s butt long enough he’d objectively look at what happened and know he’s at the front of the ‘I’m going to look like an ass at some point’ line and wake up. I’ve made enough horses ass comments to know to at least be aware now, when I am headed down that path….
It was NEVER a question of Manny’s ability, ever. Hell I am not sure anyone had more run ins with him, as a teammate, than I did, but I’ll never say anything other than this guy studied and practiced the art of hitting, and executed, as well as anyone I’ve ever seen.
No, that wasn’t the issue, and no one argues that. What was the issue, and this is my opinion only, became very clear to anyone in or around the team at this point. The issue was not whether he would play ‘hard’ every day. He ALWAYS hit, but the game is so much more than swinging the bat it’s laughable. No, the issue was whether he would actually PLAY. I don’t mean play hard, play tough, play lazy, no, PLAY.
He had in the past taken days off. Hell most guys do. He certainly had his own way of doing it and it was never ever with thought to anyone but himself but for the most part I always took it with the “Manny knows his body better than anyone”. We all knew there were times it was just ‘He didn’t feel like playing today” and by ‘playing’ that meant anything. Pinch hitting, pinch running, anything. His days off for the most part were totally off. That’s not common, not at all. You played that day, or series of days, with a 24 man roster, that was never a thing you doubted or that came unexpected after awhile. As a pitcher that is and always will be a factor in being a leader in the clubhouse. A starting pitcher has very little idea what these guys do to their bodies every day. But what I do know is I played 23 years of professional baseball and have played with guys that ran the spectrum. The guy who said “I’m good” while trying to catch with a broken collarbone, and the guy who literally HAD to feel 100% to take BP. So for a pitcher to question a position player, well in certain contexts that just didn’t happen, but you also knew your teammates and you got to see ‘behind the curtain’ when that ‘hurt’ guy took 5 days off and spent less than 10 minutes in the training room. A direct opposite to the guy who took one day off, made sure the manager knew he could Pinch Hit if needed, and spent the game running back and forth from the bench to the training room getting interval treatment as he could.
No, by saying PLAY I mean exactly that. The issue got to the point where everyone finally took him at his word, there was no choice. A guy refusing to get on a team plane, having to be literally coaxed on, by people with pride and people that love the game, because meeting the obligations of a 20 million dollar contract were not even close to enough to get him going???? If he did not get traded he was going to need “time off” to rest his injured knee, and it got to the point where he made it clear time off could mean the rest of the season. Few guys will admit to it and that’s cool, I get that, but no one, if in the right situation, would ever deny that was anything but true.
So it’s not ‘what could have been’, we knew what was to be, and what was to be was that if he did not get a contract extension he was going to take a seat, and in taking that seat he didn’t give a rats ass what anyone thought, including the 24 guys that wore the same uniform. So the ‘what could have been’ in the post season is not the question. The question is would there have been a post season if he had stayed, and that’s a question, and a gamble, that I think everyone felt they knew the answer too and in the end a gamble no one was willing to take, and rightly so.
People continue to try and assign logic to the thoughts and decisions made when we all knew so many illogical things were said and done that logic was far from a factor in 99% of the things happening at the end. I don’t think Scott Boras told many to ‘tank it’, Manny’s a grown man and any decisions or actions he made are all on him.
It is demeaning and disrespectful to the guys that did respect their teammates, the game and the fans by busting their asses through broken down hips, sore arms, strained abs and whatever, to grind it out for each other and the fans, their love of the game and anything else you can think of, the organization, to hear people question the hows and whys of this whole thing. That was why I said ‘he flipped you all off’ because if you heard ANYTHING he said after he left, he did.
Ya, remember this guy was at the forefront of bringing the first world championship to Boston in 2004 (but please also throw a cheer or three Foulkies way, that guy was the man in October of 04), remember this guy, along with David, made the most fearsome middle of the order of our lifetimes, remember when he was at the plate you better not THINK of not being able to watch what he might do. This guy, when he hit, changed games BEFORE he came to the plate.
But the thing that killed me in the end was this; he never gave a rats ass about any of us that suited up with him, not one iota. He was, and he said repeatedly, about going to the highest bidder and getting as much money as he possibly could, period. If that meant pissing on us in the interim, so be it.
Hey! That’s cool, that’s 100% your prerogative. But please don’t crap all over the guy, or guys that spent years as your ‘teammates’ covering your ass by saying “Aww that’s just Manny being Manny” and the hundreds of thousands of other things we needed to say to stop the stories from being more than they could. Please don’t piss all over the Manager and GM who pretty much swallowed every ounce of pride they possessed because they knew that it was ‘win above all else’ here to the fans and owners. Manny had a cult following because Manny could hit and act goofy, period. Hey that’s cool, that’s what some fans love an that’s fine, but that’s it.
Manny left because Manny wanted to get Manny the largest possible contract Manny could. That happens and that’s fine. But the Sox got a player that’s going to help them get back to October next year out of a situation they could have been left with a player not playing, and a patch work of guys filling in for the rest of the year.
That doesn’t mean, to me anyway, that the question should be “How much farther would we have gotten” but rather “Would we have gotten there?”
Why on earth would ANY situation be as good as it’s ever been? Why would things be so fun and nice and happy and exciting AFTER you lose a first ballot HALL OF FAME PLAYER? Is the rest of the baseball world that much smarter than a guy widely recognized as one of, if not the, best GMs in the game? Is a guy widely recognized as one of the best managers, and on top of that best human beings, in the game that dumb? Couldn’t it be that the opposite is true?
Don’t ask how far they could have gone. Let it be what it is. That team went from 7 runs down and 7 outs to the end of a season that had more turmoil and injuries than the Dallas Cowboys, to tying run on base in the 8th inning of game 7. One game from the World Series.
Is that good enough? Ask the players, they’ll all tell you hell no because it’s now different here. They now, and rightly so, expect to win the World Series every year. Anything short of that is disappointing and you can scream all you want but it’s realistic, and earned. Ya it’s not the Yankees of the late ’90s, but it’s getting there. This group has earned a place of respect in baseball that’s been earned and the onus is on them to maintain that level of expectation through performance, on and off the field. But for me, personally, the far cooler piece is that the composition of players on the team now, and the organization, is now setup to be held to a far higher standard personally and professionally, and with that comes good things. The fans deserve that, the game deserves that.
Joe Maddon benches his star young player twice and his team reaches the World Series. Hell Scioscia has to pretty much kick a star offensive player off his team during the playoffs, it might even have cost them a shot at getting to the World Series in 04. I’m ok with saying it because while you can scream all you want about things I’ve said in the past, I’ve never intentionally disrespected the game, or my teammates, never. I’ve said dumb things and done a few real stupid ones, never was anything said or done with the intent to disrespect either, anyone telling you otherwise is a liar.
I promise Tito, Jim Fregosi, maybe even Bob Brenly and Frank Robinson will tell you I was a pain in the butt at times because I talked too much though the GMs might say it a little more adamantly. But there isn’t a coach or GM I ever played for that will tell you I didn’t bust my ass every day I had the ball in my hand or that I was ever unprepared for the job at hand, or that I ever played the game with anything but respect. I am not a Hall of Famer, I’ve known that since suiting up with one. I played with guys that don’t and will never like me, hell that happens. But I cared about every teammate I ever had and I cared what my teammates thought of me when it was my day, and I cared what the guys in the other dugout thought of me when they had to compete against me. Beyond that what people ‘knew’ of me was/is far less than anyone ever will beyond my friends and family.
The Sox are poised to be a force in baseball for the next decade. The Left Fielder is a perennial All Star, the staff is littered with aces, the bullpen is anchored by a guy that will end the decade as the games most dominant closer, the first and second baseman should finish 1-2 in the MVP race (not sure what order), the team has a HUGE pool of young, homegrown, talent in the majors, and on the way, the manager, though bald with an enormous nose, is as good a manager as anyone in the game and manages people better than anyone I’ve been around, he cares, deeply, about his players and hsi staff and that matters to them all, the coaching staff has 2 future managers at least, one future GM, the fans got their 4th ALCS in 6 years. It’s a new time, a new team and the future is awesome. Remember the 2008 Red Sox as a team that persevered thorugh a lot more than 90% of the teams in the game and battled their asses off to within 2 runs of a World Series while authoring the greatest comeback ever for a team faced with elimination. Remember them for the 3rd baseman that played through what could only be described as a broken hip, an Ace that gutted out a game that will be horribly under appreciated forever, in a must win. Remember 2008 as the year Jon Lester, a cancer survivor, turned into one of the premier pitchers in the game, not the league, the game. Remember them as the team who’s closer extended a record post season scoreless streak even farther, remember them for their 2nd baseman, a five foot nothing guy who can fricking rake (though he knows he can’t hit me) a gold glove first baseman who cemented his place as a premier all around stud (though bald and a mullion). Those are the things to remember this team by, those are the things that matter.
No more ‘what could have beens’, they are good enough now to take responsibility for what is, and what will be, and there isn’t a player on this team that will shun accountability or responsibility for their actions or their teams. That’s a pretty cool thing.
50 minutes ago