LONGSHOTS: Manny happy returns from the Evil Empire
by Dave Long
It’s my annual summer visit to the Evil Empire and as usual a HUGE story hit the streets while I’m here. One time it was the death of Ted Williams, which was a huge story — one treated much more reverently in New York than the Boston papers treated the death a few years earlier of his rival Joe DiMaggio. I saw that as a sign of New York’s respect for the great Williams. The story of his being cryogenically frozen by his children also broke while I was here. As did the tale of New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey coming out of the closet after getting caught giving his young protégé/paramour a job he was thoroughly unqualified for.
This time it was the trade of Manny Ramirez. The Daily News put his picture on the front and back page, and had SIX stories about the saga. That’s more than the Globe did. The Post, if you can believe it, was more restrained with three. And it was all WFAN-The Fan talked about. And while, in saying it was a bad move because of the production the Sox would lose, the radio guys were clueless about it, all the newspaper columnists pretty much got it.
But it wasn’t the only story swirling around the Big Apple. So here’s my annual communiqué from behind enemy lines about what’s happening as it relates to the teams back home:
All those who just hate Yankee announcer John Sterling for his obnoxious “The Yaaannkeees win, the Yaaannnkees WIN!” chant will get a kick out of his being pulled over by the cops while doing a radio interview for talking on a cell phone while driving. That’s against the the law down here. To which Chip (Harry) Malafronte countered in the New Haven Register, “Interview over! Spotless driving record over! Troopers win! Theeeeeee troopers win!” (“‘Shark’ tries to sink teeth into win for the ages,” July 20, www.nhregister.com).
Pedro Martinez was in the news after pitching Friday for the first time in three weeks, thanks to injury and the passing of his father. He lasted only five innings in a 7-3 loss to Houston. The most stunning thing about the box was seeing the once great Pedro has an ERA of SIX POINT ONE SIX! That’s 6.16 to those outside New England.
If you aren’t over the Patriots’ losing the Super Bowl, the story about David Tyree on the PUP list won’t make you feel any better. It seems he had a shoulder so damaged when he made the catch of all catches in the final drive, it required surgery extensive enough to keep him out of the field until at least opening day.
The Manny soap opera was not the only one the Empire was involved with on the periphery. It passed the one-week mark in the Brett Favre drama, where most I talked to feel that adding him to other off-season moves by the Jets and the drafting of physical specimen pass rusher Vernon Gholston will close the gap considerably between the Pats and J-E-T-S Jets, Jets, Jets — although confidence comes and goes, as evidenced by a Daily News headline that said “Jets Favre from Out” (Aug. 1) and Newsday’s “Favre status a tired question to Jets Mangini” (Aug. 1).
The Yankees held Old Timers Day for the last time in the real Yankee Stadium. Sox alum David Wells was one of the Yankee pitchers — even though I didn’t even know he was retired.
But in the end Manny was still the big story, where, as I said, the columnists got it right for the most part.
The region was positively giddy about his leaving Boston, both because it took a Yankee Killer (a term used over and over, thanks to Manny’s hitting 55 homers in 200 games against them over the years) and because L.A. was the last-minute substitute for Florida, which means Manny will have no impact on the NL East race, where the Mets (who got slammed for doing nothing at the trade deadline) are locked in a tight three-way battle for the lead with the Phillies and Marlins.
Joel Sherman in the Post cautioned all not to get carried away too soon, by reminding what happened a year ago, when fans were doom and gloom when the Sox beat out the Yanks for Eric Gagne. In desperation they turned to Joba (the Hut) Chamberlain, who was a revelation, while the Sox went on to win it all despite Gagne, who was a complete bust.
Sherman also showed that bitterness over Spygate still lingers down here. In comparing Manny’s lack of integrity to Bill Belichick’s, Sherman said, “At least Belichick —despicable as he is — was cheating to try to win.” (“Money in the Tank,” Aug. 3, New York Post).
Bishop Guertin alum Mike Lupica liked the irony of the Yankee killer now playing for Joe Torre, since Torre was in the opposing dugout when Manny and company came back from down 3-0 on his Yanks in 2004. He also had the best line on the A-Rod/Madonna saga in saying that given the age difference she should have just adopted him.
Bill Madden of the Daily News was most on target, though, in fingering Scott Boras as the guy behind Manny’s strange behavior. Boras, as his new agent, wouldn’t get a dime if Boston’s $20 million option were exercised. So he got Manny out of that, by telling him the whopper that he was going to get him a deal worth $100 million this winter. To which Madden wrote, “How regrettable for baseball, however, that the biggest winner of all turned out to be Scott Boras, for all the wrong reasons.” Although I thought his best line was “It was despicable conduct, all of it, but then what else would you expect from Boras and a willing lap dog in the name of greed?” (“Scott Boras, clients the real winners at MLB trade deadline,” July 31, Daily News).
If I’m Theo, I’d remember how this skunk messed with the season and do what Hank Steinbrenner did last winter in A-Rod contract talks by refusing to deal with Boras. Theo should do the same, which would be bad news for Jason Varitek this winter and Jason (sitting on the dock of the) Bay next as both are Boras clients.
One final word about Boras — I don’t know what kind of drugs Manny and he are on, thinking he’ll get $100 million. This will COST Manny. If he’d kept his mouth shut and just hit for the next two years, he’d have had $40 million, plus another two-year deal for around another $20 million when he was 39. But at 37 the best an aging slugger, who’ll hit 30 and drive in 95, will get is MAYBE a three-year deal worth MAYBE $15 million per. That’s $45 million at best vs. $60 million. And I bet it’s less — which makes this a move from the Nomar Garciaparra School of Negotiation.
Of course, it’s now forget the Cubs, as I’m hoping for L.A.-Boston in the series.
Dave Long can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He hosts the Absolute Sports Experience at Billy’s Sports Bar in Manchester each Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon that is broadcast live on WGAM – The Game, 1250-AM Manchester, 900-AM Nashua.