No question Manny has been singing this song for years, naming in press conferences other teams he might prefer to play with. And when your industry has only 30 companies in it, and yours is the Red Sox, the message is pretty blunt. Lesser teams, hear the pundits and fans (redundant in this town), would be better than this.
A few years ago, Manny suggested it would be better to work in a city where baseball is merely a diversion, rather than be ground through the daily sports-review machine that comes with playing for a Boston team -- these days, any Boston at team. This is where he began to lose the support of the People, when he revealed that he was more loyal to himself, or perhaps even to baseball, than he was to the Sox.
Sox fans want their lifers: Teddy Ballgame (19 seasons), Pudge (24), Yaz (23), Wakefield (13), even Clemens (13). Manny's 8 Sox years can not make this list, and his youth in a position where one can grow quite old (Williams played his last game at 42, Yaz at 44) is a certainty that he will enter the Hall of Fame with Boston as one of a list.
When Roger Clemens left town, it was in pursuit of a World Series ring, which he felt he deserved, and better management, which I think we all thought we deserved. And the fans couldn't begrudge him that. (until he began to win them, then we had to remind him money couldn't buy him love. rrrr--oooo----ggerrrrr)
I have been neglectful of my boys this season. A convergence of distractions has put the Sox off even my back burner. My response to Manny's departure is less about what it is to be a Manny fan and more about what it is to feel like Manny.
This is my blog after all. There is no shortage of rant about Manny you can turn to.
I joined my current team after a quick baseball good-bye to my previous employer, and trotted out to my new field punching my glove and eyes focused on that distant home plate. Sometimes the team just isn't ready for you. I was benched for most of that first year, but swung for the fences in BP and did an hour of wind sprints before every game I didn't get to play, just in case they brought me in. When I was mercifully handed over to The Boss, she put me into every game, double-headers, fungos to the rookies, association negotiations with management. She wanted to see every play I had, and even though we got trounced pretty badly for 2 years, she kept promising me that ring was in sight.
But in those years I got tired of waiting. Then I stopped wanting it. And I started taking my own trips to the scoreboard, throwing back balls, taking the slow jog in the short parks.
Just these past few months I realize I am on a team in contention, and they don't need me much anymore. The Boss is recruiting overseas players, our promising investment from the farm team is now a starting player, the veterans are leading practice, even our recent acquisition is showing all the hunger of a winner.
I thought I wouldn't care.
Turns out I care so much I have buried it into this labyrinthine baseball metaphor. I realize I have flaked Manny-style just as the team I have been waiting for since 1990 has finally arrived.
Curt Schilling said, “..I’ve always wondered how we came to be OK with ‘… he’s just not gonna play hard today,’ and that was OK. We’ve come a long way, especially in this city as devoted and as much as the Red Sox mean to people....you know these players love the uniform, love the fans, and believe in Red Sox and what it means to be a part of this and then you have guys who really don’t give a [expletive].”
Last night I spent some time reading my fan mail, to remind myself I was once something of a spectacle and to see if I could find that drive again. When the postseason comes, I want my share of the clubhouse embrace. I want to be one of the guys who gives an expletive.
watch this space.