T.J. Simers has a problem.
The Los Angeles Times columnist ripped into our local fandom yesterday for its continued obsession with all things Manny Ramirez -- coming on the heels of Jonathan Papelbon's latest comments in Esquire Magazine.
Simers also expresses concern that Lakers fans may be showing some of the same unwelcome traits.
You know, like passion.
Around L.A. we didn't much care what happened in Boston, but while Manny began to fit in here, the bitter no-lifers back there handled the divorce the way they do most everything else.
They obsessed. And they continue to obsess.
Simers has a point. Not many a day have passed since last summer's trade that Ramirez isn't the topic du jour in area radio, TV, Internet and water cooler circles. Instead of "good riddance," we seem to have crossed the threshold into a somewhat unhealthy fixation, one no doubt spurred by the lack of baseball in our midst. Or for that matter, the lack of such a polar character as Ramirez on this year's edition of Boston's finely-tuned baseball machine.
To make his argument, Simers prints portions of a few profanity-filled e-mails he's received from Red Sox fans, which is to label the entire fan base as loud-mouthed, verbose, and pretentious. Or, actually, those are sort of his precise words:
"I'd rather read a Dwyre tennis column than anything written by Boston's ponderous and self-important sports columnists. And just imagine living in a place where everyone talks funny and all they want to do is talk, talk, talk about what they think."
In L.A., of course, sports fans are defined by their laissez-faire attitude, which makes it the perfect environment for Ramirez. And with new best friend Simers, the slugger has to worry even less about his perception in the media, unlike Boston, where the unfair journalists cared about accountability.
Ramirez said he "suffered" here for eight long years, during which he made $160 million, won two World Series titles, and was the object of constant admiration from millions of Red Sox fans. Apparently, when someone gives you one more kick to the groin, fans are supposed to raise their tea cups in tribute to the perpetrator.
Of those millions of fans, a handful were the creepy sort who stalked the hallways at the Ritz, hoping for an autograph or a photo op. Now, they speak for everyone, which is sort of like gathering a definitive presidential approval rating in the Wal-Mart gun department.
"As good a hitter as he is, he spends most of his time poking fun at himself," Simers writes. "The guy hasn't taken himself seriously from the day he arrived, playing a game as if it really is a game, the perfect fit here in the entertainment capital."
A greedy player with a facade. Yup, perfect fit for Hollywood.