Mad over Manny
Readers react strongly in the first 'bag of spring
The mailbag is back! Starting this week, Boston Globe baseball writer Gordon Edes checks in every week (usually on Wednesdays or Thursdays) to answer your questions on the Red Sox. Ask yours now, and come back next week to see if it was answered.
I just read the transcript of the Q&A between Manny's agent and reporters (some of whom work for the Globe I assume) If the Red Sox are tiptoeing around the Manny issue, and he seems happy to be here, why can't Boston media let the past die? Perhaps the media and all of their rants for his behavior (admittedly behavior not exhibited by people in the "real world") are what causes Manny to say he doesn't want to be in Boston anymore. My point is ... he is essential to the Sox making a run this year. Why can't you guys see that?
Chris, Norwalk, Conn.
A: Chris, I can't pretend to have any insight on what causes Manny to act the way he does, even after being around him for the last six seasons. It's indisputable he's a great hitter, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, I expect. I was troubled by the tone of some of the questions, but this was the first -- and perhaps only -- opportunity to address some of Manny's issues with his agents. Is it not legitimate to ask about Manny's last demands to be traded, the condition of his knee, and the timing of his mother's surgery, given that he reported after everyone else? And I'm not sure about what you characterize as your point: Because Manny is essential to the Sox making a run this year, we shouldn't pose questions that we would pose about any other player? Our job is not to do our part in helping the Sox win; our job is to report about the club.
I e-mailed you last week regarding "baby Manny". I'd love to know who asked the question in your transcript about Manny behaving like a 12 year-old. I think there should be ZERO tolerance on the part of Theo and the trio for anymore of this crap from Manny. Your thoughts?
Mark C. Nemeskal, Swampscott
A: Mark, the question was posed by Jonny Miller of WBZ Radio, who has been reporting on the team longer than any of us. Theo Epstein and Terry Francona have made a point about "accountability," but it remains to be seen what the "or else" is going to be.
Great job as usual keeping the updates from Ft. Myers flowing ... You, Amalie and Eric are all allowing those of us stuck in the cold to live vicariously ... anyway, my question is this ... Lost among the Mannys, Schillings and Daisukes of camp is Jonathan Papelbon ... very little information regarding his shoulder, how he's looked in BP etc. seems to be making it northward. Based on what you've seen so far, simply put, how's he look? Thanks, keep up the good work.
Devin Wolfe, Rochester NY
A: Devin, stay tuned ... he's pitching Saturday against the Phils. And since you wrote, Jackie MacMullan had a nice column about "Starter Boy," as Mike Timlin has taken to calling him. He feels strong, thinks he could start or close, and admits to a little apprehension about how he'll do as a starter after being lights out as a closer.
Is it just a coincidence or something else that the Red Sox have not reissued No. 5 to anyone since Nomar Garciaparra left? Has it been offered and a player said no? At first I thought they may be holding off in "tribute" to Nomar but when I saw J.D. Drew get Trot Nixon's No. 7, a number I would have thought would have thought no one would wear for at least a year, it had me thinking. Also, regarding numbers, No. 26, it seems a forgone conclusion it will be retired by the Red Sox, is this a safe assumption? if so any plans for this season?
Patrick Flynn, Hadley
A: Patrick, I checked with Joe Cochran, the equipment manager, and he tells me no one has asked for No. 5 since Nomar left. I doubt the Sox are particularly eager to give it out. J.D. Drew wore No. 7 in L.A., and given that the Sox just committed five years and $70m to him, you know they were going to accommodate his wishes. I can assure you that if the day comes where Albert Pujols plays for the Sox, they'll happily give him the No. 5, which he wears in St. Louis. As for No. 26, I don't know if the Sox will retire Wade Boggs' number or not. He doesn't meet the criteria the club established for retiring numbers, because he didn't end his career in Boston.
Gordon, can you give us a status on who will be a free agent for the Red Sox after this season?
Walt Coleman, Boston
A: The Big Schill is the biggest potential free agent on the Sox after this season; he has already declared he will file. Mike Lowell, Eric Hinske and Matt Clement are others, and if the Sox don't pick up Julian Tavarez's 2008 option, he also can file.
What's the latest on the exclusive deal MLB made with DirecTV -- is that going to be the only way to purchase the Baseball Package? Or is there a chance it won't go through? There has to be a lot of upset fans in the "Nation".
Dick Branca, Lisle, Ill.
A: Dick, as you know, MLB has yet to announce the deal, and Opening Day is fast approaching. The FCC, at the urging of Sen. John Kerry, is looking into it, but I suspect it will get done.
Gordo -- what am I missing when evaluating Mike Timlin? I have had zero confidence in his ability to handle the tough situations for the past two seasons. Is this guy really closer material? Aren't his better days well behind him? Thanks...
Henry Dionne, Athens, Ga.
A: Henry, I think the Sox are more concerned with Mike regaining the form that made him one of the most reliable setup men around than evaluating him as a potential closer. Mike will turn 41 on March 10, and his workload has been staggeringly consistent -- 60 or more appearances in 10 straight seasons. Over the last five seasons, only Scott Eyre (387) and Ray King (386) have appeared in more games than Mike (369). But last season, he ran into shoulder trouble, which started in the World Baseball Classic, and it impacted him all year. I really can't see him closing. Go 'Dogs.
Just throwing it out there ... IF the Red Sox trade Wily Mo Pena this spring training, any chance they take a run at Bernie Williams an extra outfielder? He did not have that bad of a year last season?
Ben Huet, Boston
A: Ben, from what I'm told, the Sox have no plans of trading Wily Mo, and considering Bernie is sitting at home, I suspect most teams think he should retire after a long and distinguished career with the Bombers.
With Schill, Dice, Paps, Beck and Wake all pretty much in the starting five, is it safe to assume Jon Lester has almost no shot of making the big league club out of spring training (baring an injury to on of the previously mentioned five of course)? My thoughts, he would be better off starting in Triple-A anyway this season.
Emile Seymour, Hudson
A: Emile, I think that's a reasonable assumption on your part, especially where the Sox are proceeding very carefully with him this spring.
Hi Gordo, good seeing you the other day. Here's my question: You asked some questions that lead me to believe that you were onto something about my meal ticket wanting to be traded again. You and I both know that the Sox aren't going to part with Manny for less than equal value (or close to it), but what rock hasn't been looked under to find that suitor? I too could hear how miffed Tito was about Manny using his PR Julian, do you think that "miffed-ness" filters to the top and if so, would that jump start the trade talks again? One last question: did I sound like even I was tired of dealing with Manny?
Greg Genske (wink, wink)
A: Greg, surprised to hear from you, given you ignored my phone calls all winter -- but I know how busy you have been. Naw, at this stage, I'd be surprised if the Sox restarted trade talks regarding Ramirez. The big man, John W. Henry, says he was happy the Sox didn't move him, so I'd be surprised if anything happened at this stage. But no, I never got the feeling you've gotten tired of dealing with Manny ... your job is to be an advocate for your client, and you do it well. Just wish we could chat a little more, tis all.
Is there any way the press could give the Sox stars more privacy ... why are press allowed in the locker room? I felt the Manny questions (some of them) bordered on hostile to Manny's agent.
Michael Rau, Vienna, Va.
A: Michael, reporters are allowed in the clubhouse because sports franchises see a benefit to having newspapers, radio, and TV outlets devoting reams of newsprint and thousands of hours of air time to the coverage of their clubs -- all free publicity of a sort. They've established guidelines to how much time reporters are allowed in the clubhouse, and where they are allowed or not allowed to go. As a rule, most players tolerate the presence of reporters in the clubhouse, some actually enjoy the give-and-take with reporters, and many welcome the opportunity to tell their stories.
Why do the Boston sportswriters continue their vendetta against Manny Ramirez? Who was the reporter who asked the inane questions of Manny's agent on Monday when he reported to spring training? We fans would love to know who was so rude and acting like the 12-year-old they claimed Manny was acting like. Just asking ... thanks for playing.
Susan Larivee, Albany, NY
A: Susan, it's all in the perception. What some of Manny's supporters consider a vendetta, others would consider us reporting (or opining) on what we observe and hear. I mentioned it earlier that Jonny Miller of WBZ Radio asked the most aggressive questions. Would I have framed my questions the same way? No. Beyond that, I think it only right for Jonny to answer for himself. But to criticize Manny in any way is viewed by many of his fans as needless meddling by the media, as if it was the Boston Globe that placed Manny on irrevocable waivers or tried to trade Manny on several occasions.
What Boston sports media hypocrisy. You assail baseball players for lack of accountability, but then you submit a 2/26/07 Q&A of grossly biased (mostly rhetorical) questions thrown at Manny's agents and do not even list the questioners. Where's the media accountability? Who are these members unprofessionally adding vitriol and fuel to the fire? I have been utterly disgusted by much of the Globe's coverage, but this took the cake.
Matt Moran, Waterbury, Vt.
A: Matt, it never occurred to me at the time that the identity of the questioners was relevant to the information presented. Given how charged some of the questions were, I can see where it might have been useful, but at the time I was just transcribing the thing as fast as I could to post on a blog. Generally in newspaper stories, the identity of the questioners at a press conference is hardly ever considered newsworthy, unless they were particularly controversial.
I am not in you guys' shoes to see this evolving dynamic of the sports interviews, but the tone of the Manny agent interview was really unprofessional. As professional writers, I have to believe that the writers know how to craft questions that don't put the speaker on the defensive. Some of the questions came across more as statements that expected a certain answer. I don't believe that is how questions should be asked, maybe for the National Enquirer but not the Globe. Now, I know several people asked questions, I really don't know who, and probably many were not from the Globe, but it just was a poor give and take. Now having said that, we all know Manny's agent is going in defensive and is not really going to reveal anything, but I think there are ways to get them to think and not give just a basic no comment answer. Maybe it's the nature of the beast, but in my line of work, I do ask questions sometimes, and I am asked questions frequently, and I would be really censured if I phrased questions that adversarily. Maybe the Globe can set an example for the other media outlets covering the Sox and show them how it's done ...
Rick Morrison, Allentown, Pa.
A: Well said, Rick. I can assure you that the vast majority of interviews stay within the boundaries you describe. I will say it was me who responded, after Genske said we needed to ask Manny, that we might be waiting till October for that to happen. I think that was appropriate, given that Manny did not speak with reporters all of last season after an introductory press conference, and the agents knew that Manny wouldn't be talking. That struck me as disingenuous.
Do you think all the media obsession with Manny and his schedule stems from jealousy? I mean come on, he gets millions to play a boys game, is in charge of his own schedule, has people fawning all over him, catering to his every whim ... If you could do it, wouldn't you? The rest of us have to worry about bosses, bills, and the rest of the BS that comes form just being a regular guy. Manny doesn't and that makes us jealous.
Carey Lambert, Newburyport
A: No, Carey, I don't think that's it at all. If that was the case, wouldn't it be open season on every superstar player? Besides, I live in Lunenburg, one of the sweetest small towns around, I have my health, a loving family, and I get to go to baseball games for a living. Why should I be jealous of anyone?