Staying power

This was the perfect microcosm last night, stuffing all the maddening ambivalence of Manny Ramirez’s desires into a matter of hours, this time with an almost overly popular sense of “who cares?” from the fandom.

After yesterday telling a reporter for ESPNDeportes.com that he was willing to stick it out in Boston, Manny Ramirez’s agent told FOXSports.com last night that the slugger denied making such remarks, and that he was indeed willing to waive his trade clause to go to Baltimore or another team. And a yawn arose from the depths of Red Sox Nation.

At least Ramirez can now know this; his adoring fan base has indeed slowly started to peel that overbearing wool from their eyes and is beginning to see the light of the truth that is Ramirez’s trade request. After hearing Ramirez’s original, perhaps disingenuous statements, the bell wasn’t rung in the Old North Church. There were no toasts proposed to the occasion at the Charlie Horse. KeepManny.com remains in business, but not in relevancy.

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Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice; well I just don’t give a damn.

We’ve been here before multiple times with this boy crying wolf rubbish. Manny’s happy. Manny’s not happy. Manny wants to be traded. Manny wants to stay in Boston. Manny wants to be friendlier. Manny wants to be left alone. Manny wants to sell his condo. Manny wants to build a new house. Manny’s grandmother is dead. Manny’s grandmother is alive.

Getting a straight story out of Ramirez is like solving the genesis of Good Charlotte’s popularity, never more so than last summer’s ridiculous week before the trading deadline, when Manny refused to play, and was on the brink of being traded from Boston before Theo Epstein decided he couldn’t get the right deal for him in return. And all of a sudden, Manny and teddy bear/blankie/pacifier Kevin Millar told Terry Francona they wanted to stay in Boston.

Sound familiar?

It is a scenario the Sox face currently, with only the Orioles out there as a reported willing trading partner that matches their needs, offering up former MVP shortstop Miguel Tejada, and demanding nothing short of a King James ransom in return. Now, Manny wants to stay. Or doesn’t. Frankly, does anyone really care anymore, at least until an inevitable deal is done? Because otherwise, it’s going to be this same old story through 2006, 2007, and 2008.

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In the statements he now denies, Ramirez said, “There will be no trade, I’m staying in Boston, where I’m familiar with the system and where I have a lot of friends, especially David Ortiz. I’m going to take things easy and focus on my career. I know the American League system. That’s one reason I don’t want to go to the National League. I also want to play for a contender, and I think with Boston I’m assured of that.”

Sure. I can see how it’s hard to misinterpret those words.

How nice of Ramirez to let the Red Sox know that there will be no trade. Perhaps in the future he can also let them know how to go about obtaining a center fielder and shortstop in time for spring training seeing that they’ve been forced to waste all their time this offseason cowering to his demands.

Not long after that story was making the rounds last night, Ramirez’s agent, Greg Genske, told Ken Rosenthal, “”If Boston is able to work out a trade with Baltimore or another team, Manny is still open to making a move.”

Of course, all this could now be a moot point, as the Orioles appear determined to move on from their unproductive dealings with the Red Sox, certainly thanks in part to Ramirez’s absurd reported request for an extension on his multi-gazillion million-dollar contract, and could unload Tejada to the Phillies for a package that contains Bobby Abreu and pitching. The Detroit Tigers have also shown an interest, and in fact manager Jim Leyland is already spending hours a day trying to figure out who Tejada is.

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As for the Red Sox, they’ve proven they can live with him, and from an offensive standpoint, there’s some valid contention whether they can live without him. They’d still prefer to try.

Because as we saw last summer, last night even, it is only a matter of time before Ramirez acts up once again, pledging his distaste for the city of Boston. Manny being Manny has long since ceased being fun. It remains a stifling presence over the rest of the long-term plan right now, a fact that more and more are starting to understand. At least until Ramirez gets his first game-winning hit sometime in April. Then, the boos and ambiguity will end, and all will be right in the Nation, just as it was on July 31.

And then, with all the fans back in his corner, Ramirez will ask to be traded. And deny it a few days later.

And we can sit back and think how much more humorous this would be if he were doing it in Baltimore.

[Note: The author denies authorization of the preceding entry, but has left the door open that he may have written it.]

World Cup of booze

In an interview with “60 Minutes” that will air Sunday, Bode Miller talks about how difficult it is to ski drunk.

“Talk about a hard challenge right there. … If you ever tried to ski when you’re wasted, it’s not easy Try and ski a slalom when … you hit a gate less than every one second, so it’s risky. You’re putting your life at risk. … It’s like driving drunk, only there are no rules about it in ski racing.”

Which, of course, can’t be great for Bretton Woods, the NH resort that has tabbed the World Cup champ its director of skiing, in its quest to get newbies on the slopes.

“Excuse me, I’ve finished my snowplow, now when do we get to the Jagr?”

Picks of the litter

We’ve already made our prediction for the weekend, 17-16 Patriots. As for the other games:

Washington 24, Tampa Bay 16

New York Giants 30, Carolina 21

Pittsburgh 33, Cincinnati 17

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