Crossing the line

I understand folks care passionately about the Red Sox. For a sportswriter, that’s part of the appeal of working in this market.

I do take exception, however, to a reader taking it upon himself this weekend to call me at home to express his objection to my column that appeared in the Globe on Saturday. What to me makes that conduct even more reprehensible was that the person who called me did so when he had to know I was in Toronto with the ballclub. What was his hope, that he could harass a family member?

My e-mail is listed in the paper– I have a weekly mailbag, where people can link to me on I have done live Q and A’s with fans at charity events, and enjoy meeting and talking with many of you. The Globe address is a matter of public record.


But to call me at home because of something I wrote about Manny Ramirez? That’s sad.

I am well aware that writing about Manny Ramirez in a negative fashion is likely to evoke strong reactions among Sox fans; he will one day be enshrined in Cooperstown for his hitting, which for many people is reason enough to overlook the fact that over the years Manny has repeatedly angered teammates and management by his conduct. Manny’s critics in the media are not the ones who have tried to trade him in each of the last three years, nor was it a media member who placed Manny on irrevocable waivers after the 2003 season, fully prepared to give him away. That was the Red Sox general manager, Theo Epstein, who does not take his orders from Morrissey Boulevard. Epstein, in fact, may have as many issues with the media as many of you do.

I appreciate the fact that the vast majority of you do not make it personal when you object to something I’ve written. Those of you who want to characterize me as a racist in this case, you’re entitled to your opinion, although for someone who has vastly enjoyed the privilege of covering Mo Vaughn, Pedro Martinez and David Ortiz in my career, not to mention people like Mike Lowell and Alex Cora and Tom Gordon, among others, I find it pretty mystifying. I also am perturbed that some of you believe I’m “lashing” out at Manny because he doesn’t talk to reporters. Trust me–my life is affected very little by whether Manny talks to me or not. He has that prerogative, and he exercises it in a non-abusive manner. He never curses at a reporter, threatens one, or even glares at reporters in a hostile manner. He simply acts most of the time as if we’re invisible. I’m not offended by that; I’m more bemused that a 34-year-old adult would conduct himself in that manner. I would submit that his relationship with the media might be more problematic for the organization paying him $20 million a year than it is for the reporters covering the club.
My column about Manny was based on information I culled from my access to the ballclub, information I would not otherwise have. Sometimes, I have to protect the sources of that information because they have a variety of reasons not to reveal their identity. I don’t know if you notice, but you never read in my stuff an anonymous quote from a player attacking another player, calling him names and such. My bosses would not permit it, I have come to understand over the years that that is a good policy, because of the fairness issues involved.


I intend tomorrow to publish a mailbag comprised of some of the responses I’ve received on the Manny column. Many of them will be highly critical, which is fine. My only hope is that in any debate, civility will not be abandoned. The person who called me at home, IMO, abandoned all pretense of civility. It’s still only sports, people.

Thanks for indulging me.


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