I have been cursed, err, blessed, enough to live in the heart of Red Sox nation for over 25 years. During this time I have watched the Red Sox evolve into a money making media machine, with an army of fans that span the globe and invade visiting teams ballparks and take over (talking to you Baltimore fans). For the last week on local sports talk radio, my radio show, this blog, and other forums, the general opinion, outside of a handful of people, was to move Manny Ramirez for a bag of baseballs and case of G2. In fact, when it seemed like at 3:45 yesterday that Manny was staying, it looked like one of those black cartoon clouds had enveloped all of New England, or that the groundhog had seen his shadow (which looked like dreadlocks) and predicted 8 more weeks of Manny. But the sky parted, the sun shined, the birds chirped and Manny was packing his bags and was almost as far away as they could send him. Then, Red Sox Nation, once again remembering they were in a pennant race, remembered that Manny hit over.300 with runners in scoring position, and Jason Bay hit only .216. The clouds and attitudes got dark again.
Watching New England Sports tonight, although everyone agreed Manny had to go, people wondered if the price tag was too high. Could Brandon Moss be another David Murphy? Could Craig Hansen turn it around? Why did we have to pay Manny's salary? I am going to answer these questions for all of you now, and in order. No, maybe, and because the Red Sox make more money than Warren Buffett and they were desperate to get Manny out of that clubhouse(to do your part,renew your Red Sox nation membership early, or get one for your dog). Brandon Moss is going to be, at best, a 4th outfielder on a National League club, Hansen could be a closer, but needs to figure out the control aspect of the game, and fans should not care when cash is sent away, especially when it will only affect two months of the season. Yes, Bay has a low average with RISP, but with a team in front of him that will give him more chances, the average will go up. He doesn't have to be THE guy, he just has to be A guy. Plus he's Canadian, so the chances of him coming to the plate the Bryan Adams "Summer of 69" are pretty good, right?
Look, it's normal to have buyers remorse. I understand, even though the old car was poisoning your lungs with an exhaust leak, you still have memories of when you drove it to Long Island. In this case 2004, when he came back from not being traded in 2005, 2007, and high-fiving the fan in Baltimore. There will always be good stories of Manny, but there was also the times he sat down against hard throwing pitchers, when he complained about knee injuries that MRI's showed nothing wrong with, when he put forth the weakest at bat in the history of baseball in Yankee Stadium, when he lallygagged down the line, stared at home runs, pimp slapped teammates for showing intensity, and when he assaulted a 60 year old man because of tickets. One of the best representations of Manny was the old Olympia sports commercial, before the 04 Series, when Manny was looking at shoes and day dreaming about being the World Series MVP. he may have been day dreaming, but he was dreaming about a place where he wouldn't be under a microscope, where people show up in the 2nd and leave in the 7th, where you have to be Andruw Jones to get booed. Manny is gone, and this team and this fan base should be better for it both spiritually and emotionally. Now give Jason Bay a standing O when he gets to the plate tonight, be patient with him, and enjoy the fact you have left fielder who will show up to work every day and do what he is supposed to do, play baseball.
Matt Boutwell is a writer for Independent Pub and co-hosts the Sports Vortex on WJZF