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Exceptions to the rules

Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff  July 2, 2008 11:35 AM

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In his Wednesday column, the Globe's Bob Ryan writes that, "In the world of sport, talent is more than an equalizer. Talent is everything." Ryan compares the fates of New England Patriots defensive back Willie Andrews and Dallas Cowboys cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones.

The Patriots released Andrews Tuesday after his second run-in with the law this offseason, while the Cowboys traded for Jones, a participant in a Las Vegas incident in which a bouncer at the Minxx Gentleman's Club was shot and permanently paralyzed from the waist down.

Ryan touches on how this all relates to Manny Ramirez:

No, Manny Ramírez didn't kill anybody, directly or indirectly. He wasn't involved in any activity in which someone was paralyzed, either. This, however, is not cause for celebration.

Manny Ramírez did something that, had it happened in the private business world, might very well have gotten him arrested if someone had been of a mind to press charges. There is no possible excuse for a fit 36-year-old athlete to put his hands on a 64-year-old traveling secretary, much less shove him hard enough to hit the floor. Never mind the idea that Manny had made an impossible request of Jack McCormick. Ramírez's request for 16 last-minute tickets to a sold-out game is laughable. The idea that this foolish request would be the springboard to an assault is disturbing.

How could the Red Sox not suspend Manny for at least one game? First of all, the "risk" in the Big Picture is minimal. There is no more inconsequential sampling in American sport than one Major League Baseball game. Not having a star for one baseball game is statistically irrelevant. It's one game out of 162. You've got so little to lose. Manny went 0 for 3 with a walk and two whiffs Monday night. Some reward for dishonoring yourself.

But that's hardly the point. Manny was not just out of line. Manny was actually indulging in a criminal act. The Red Sox had an obligation to inform the rest of the organization, as well as the rest of baseball, that they will not tolerate criminal acts on the part of anyone, even future first-ballot Hall of Famers such as Manny Ramírez. It is incomprehensible that such smart people as John Henry, Larry Lucchino, and Theo Epstein didn't understand how much they had to gain by taking a stand for honor and decency. There is no more thankless task in baseball than that of the traveling secretary. How can any of the Red Sox brass now look Jack McCormick in the eye?

Only days before, a journeyman pitcher named Shawn Chacon got physical with Houston Astros general manager Ed Wade. Like Willie Andrews, Shawn Chacon was the definition of "expendable." He was released, and deservedly so. There are plenty of Shawn Chacons out there. He has probably thrown his last pitch in the major leagues.

If, for example, Brandon Moss had shoved Jack McCormick to the floor in a silly tiff over tickets, or over anything, you think he'd still be a member of the Boston Red Sox?

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About bob ryan's blog Opinions, observations and anecdotes from Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan.
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Bob is an award-winning columnist for the Globe and the host of "Globe 10.0" on Boston.com.

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