I didn’t laugh. I didn’t cry. I chose rather to reflect.
As the 2008 baseball season came to a disappointing end Sunday night for the Boston Red Sox, I chose to look back on a season and evaluate why the team finished the way it did.
Obviously, a close and disap-pointing loss in the seventh game of the ALCS could be re-garded as a spectacular cam-paign which finished just short of the mark of competing in two World Series in a row and three Fall Classics in five years.
Problem is, with that logic, most fans — including yours truly — can’t get our minds wrapped around the key figure in the thing, Manny Ramirez, and why he didn’t finish the season in Boston.
I can hear all the boo-birds out there, admonishing me for dwelling on the past. OK, I’ll play along, but from the get-go the prodigious slugger wasn’t hit very hard in the area that would’ve affected him the most: his wallet.
Granted, the trade that es-sentially saw Manny heading to the Los Angeles Dodgers was a trade being paid for by Boston.
The Pittsburgh Pirates’ Ja-son Bay filled Manny’s role admirably but, in the end, one doesn’t replace a superstar with anybody else but a superstar. There are just too few of them out there.
Granted, all the hoopla on the West Coast over Manny was a little too much to take up here where we butter our bread with a daily work ethic that turns in a full day’s work, regardless of the wage.
Unfortunately, that’s not al-ways the way of the world in professional sports.
Manny needed to be fined heavily throughout the course of his many seasons for all his faux pas and shenanigans.
He certainly wasn’t.
You see, I would never have traded this young man. I would have sent him packing, not to another team, mind you, but to his own home.
Fined for every remark, every day he couldn’t or wouldn’t play, and every home run he admired, I would have financially nickel and dimed him until he could really feel it.
Manny decides to not run out an infield grounder, fine him. Manny mouths off to an oppos-ing pitcher during an at-bat, fine him. Manny decides to high-five a bleacher bum im-mediately after making a play, fine him.
I think you get the picture.
Last week, the Dodgers got a brief glimpse into what makes Ramirez tick in an NLCS mini-brawl with the Phillies. When Manny took center stage — a place he certainly likes to be — during a ruckus and had to be restrained, the Dodger demise really began.
In many ways, oddly enough, Manny Ramirez, then, had a hand in both his new team’s demise and his old team’s post-season exit.
The Red Sox, with Manny, probably would’ve won it all. The Dodgers, with Manny, were good enough to get where they got, but not good enough to make it to the next level. There was Manny, stirring the drink, and down went the Dodgers, cradle and all.
Neither team is in the win-ner’s circle now. Sadly, the Sox picked up the tab for the whole darned deal.
All this leads me to worry if the John Henry ownership group in Boston will reload or maintain status quo.
If anyone in the so-called Red Sox Nation wants to ascertain where the club is headed, they should follow the bouncing money ball.
I hate to say this, but the team missed the slugger’s of-fensive production. Manny ran the show, then, in both Los An-geles and in Beantown. In a nutshell, dear readers, that is the problem with pro sports.
30-Second Time Out
It was a brief mention, and I almost missed it.
The Maine Alumni Magazine is reporting that Larry Schiner, former Brewer High School basketball coach and star bas-ketball player at the University of Maine in the early 1960s, re-ceived a Block “M” Award at the recently completed class reunion for his many years of leadership in alumni programs.
I give credit to the former coach for having a positive in-fluence on my career. On many winter nights, I sat in the bleachers behind his bench and watched the likes of stars Ricky Emery and Bobby Russell per-form their hoop magic out on the old tiled floor at the high school.
Congratulations, coach. And thanks for the memories.