Uh-oh. This time he means it.
Manny Ramirez has requested a trade and it's lasted more than five days this time. That, friends, is simply a sense of commitment you just don't find in today's multi-millionaire ballplayer.
It could be a different story, of course, by tomorrow -- OK, lunch -- as far as Ramirez is concerned, but no matter. He is officially the boy who cried wolf, and the Red Sox the townspeople who have been fleeced one too many times.
Following a meeting yesterday with Larry Lucchino, Tom Werner, and Ramirez's agent, Greg Genske, the two sides reportedly agreed to seek trade avenues for the Red Sox slugger. Both sides also said Ramirez could be back in Boston next season.
Look, if you want to trade the guy, then trade the guy. If you don't want to trade the guy, then trade the guy. That is quite simply the only way to end this annual soap opera.
If one week from now we hear Ramirez is happy playing in Boston, that he's ready once again to lead the Red Sox to another title, feel free to take it for what it is worth. Nothing.
Ramirez is as good as gone. And if he isn't by the time spring training rolls around, the Red Sox have made themselves an awful mistake.
It is more than abundantly clear that the Red Sox-Ramirez nuptials have reached their cul de sac. Kevin Millar will no longer be around to baby-sit him. Theo Epstein is not in the front office anymore to plead Ramirez's case for the incomparable offense he brings to the club. On the other hand, Red Sox Nation is surely to revolt. Maybe even as long as it takes possible replacement Adam Dunn to hit his third home run.
The Red Sox are going to survive the bad PR of this general manager fiasco, and they will indubitably survive trading Manny Ramirez.
And so, the rumors will float over the coming weeks, interrupting holiday shopping trips with cell phone updates from friends, demanding to know how they can consider Manny Ramirez for Aubrey Huff. Thanksgiving dinner conversations, just two years ago brimming with excitement over Curt Schilling's New England arrival, will instead teem with three way trades and possible scenarios that ask how the Red Sox can land the likes of Dunn and Lastings Milledge.
Sure, the Red Sox could keep him, running the risk of Ramirez's threat not to show up for spring training (one we're not really sure if Ramirez is aware he made). If not then, they'll feel the aftereffects of not trading him when Manny wants to be dealt in June or July. And then, doesn't. Fans will feel used, and then celebrate in the fact that their team's best player basically spat on them days before, but now, everything is OK. It's just Manny being Manny, man. And we'll have a good laugh at the insanity of it all, and then adjourn for potato salad and Country Time lemonade at Grandma Stallone's house.
Uh, no. It's just not cute anymore, if it all ever was to begin with.
If the man wants out, the best thing for everybody is to give him a ticket to Queens, Orange County, or the Arizona desert. As a 10-5 man, Ramirez can veto any trade, which ought to be a fun proposition. Imagine a deal is in place with the Mets, but Manny says no, infuriating Red Sox management. Then, a week later, after the deal is long dead, well now Manny wants to go to New York and won't report to Fort Myers unless he's dealt there. Well, by now Milledge is already preparing to join the Devil Rays, Nationals, or Diamondbacks, and the Red Sox are stuck in a corner, trading their best hitter for Felix Heredia.
Not bloody likely, you say? You do know who this Manny Ramirez is, right?
The one thing standing in the way, of course, is someone to deal him, someone to be Lucchino's fall guy. And it's almost as if people know this is a prerequisite for the job, as the likes of Chris Antonetti and Tony LaCava simply said "thanks, but no thanks" to Boston's desire to interview them for a promotion. Kevin Towers doesn't want to leave the perfect surroundings of San Diego's climate and in a town where fans don't want to scream bloody murder for demoting a third baseman with 150 big league at-bats in order to set up shop in Boston? Gee, why?
That's why I hope the Dodgers do in fact hire Kim Ng, who the LA Times says today has generated curiosity from the Red Sox, to be the first female general manager in the game. It's going to be hard enough to break down that barrier without doing it in Boston, where public scrutiny is actually written into the job description.
Imagine she's the one who traded Manny Ramirez. Welcome to Boston, Ms. Ng. Here is your armored car.
Of course, any such outcry will be reactive and nothing more as long as the team gets the right tools in exchange for its best player. And as long as they don't sink that $57 million they free up in doing so into Average A.J. Burnett.
Manny wants to go this time. Done with Boston. Or, maybe not. You never know, they say.
I know. Trade him and hope he accepts his destination. Manny being Manny and his dithering is a tired act, one that frankly, 40 home runs and 120 runs batted in no longer excuses.