I like Manny Ramirez.
Honestly. Not only for the fact that he’s a phenomenal ballplayer that is one of the main reasons my beloved Sox are constantly playoff contenders, but for many of the reasons that other fans seem to hate him for.
I like that he doesn’t run out every ground ball like it’s a time trial sprint. It’s baseball, okay. It’s a game. It’s not supposed to be taken so seriously. Trot Nixon throws his body around like he’s in a demolition derby, and the media and fans love him because he’s “gritty”. You know what else he is? Injured. A lot. Meanwhile, Manny’s stats double Trot’s. Baseball is not football. It’s a leisurely game. It’s also one fuckload of a long season, and personally, I have more respect for somebody like Manny, who keeps things in perspective and knows how he needs to do things in order to be the most effective, as opposed to somebody like Trot, who thinks with his balls more often than his head. Not that Manny’s a brainiac, but he’s gifted, and smart enough to use those gifts the best way. I’d rather have him jogging to first in some non-descript game in August than sitting on the bench in September because he tweaked his groin legging out an infield grounder that he had only a 10% chance of beating out.
I also like the fact that he shows up to Spring Training a week late. Spring Training is boring. This gives us something to talk about. “Oooh! Manny’s late! How will this effect his relationship with his teammates?!” First off, it’s Spring Freakin’ Training! Even the guys that have been there since January have been doing little more than stretching, taking batting practice and running through standardized baseball drills. It’s not like they’re working on a top secret mission that will guarantee them a World Series victory. So Manny’s late. Big deal. I don’t give a shit when the person in cube across from me is a half-hour late to work, so long as they’re doing their job. I can’t imagine athletes being any different. “Man! How come Manny gets to come a week late while we have to be stuck here in 75-degree weather playing long-toss?! That guy is SPOILED!” I’m sure it’s probably more the opposite. “Cool. Manny’s late to camp. That’ll give the press dogs something to talk about so we won’t have to waste a whole season’s worth of clichés up in the first week of camp. Thanks, Manny!”
Why is it when it comes to sports figures and entertainers, people tend to forget the basic principles they’d apply to normal people? I know they make a boatload of cake, and that’s supposed to make them work harder or some nonsense, but how can we forget that they’re still human? Besides, more money usually just means more responsibility. It doesn’t really mean you have to work *harder*. Most executives I know work longer days, to be sure, but they also spend large portions of those longer days chatting over company-expensed lunches and kicking back in their cushy office chairs staring off into space. It’s pretty much relative, near as I can tell.
And spare me the whole “role model” argument. If you’re taking your cues on how to behave from somebody else just because they happen to be on TV a lot, then you’re a moron. I was a little kid once. I had favorite athletes. But I never once said to my mom, “no, ma, I won’t eat these carrots, because Larry Bird doesn’t eat carrots!” My role models were my parents. Not because they were super-parents or anything, but because they simply made it clear that what I did reflected on them, and if I wanted them to do nice things for me, I shouldn’t do things that reflected *poorly* on them. It’s not really that difficult a concept to grasp.
So I like Manny Ramirez. He entertains me. And what other purpose does anybody really serve in my world other than to entertain me? None that I can see.