What the heck are you cheering for?I think Stark is making way too much of this. I have no problem with him being distressed at Ramirez's behavior -- depending on who you believe, his behavior may be very well have been distressing -- but it is unreasonable to suggest that Manny's behavior is precedent setting.
For a man who decided his personal net worth was more important than an entire franchise and all the people who played with him, covered for him, depended on him? Sheez. How sad is that? . . .
. . . Yeah, we know what every Dodgers fan on earth is thinking: "What he did in Boston isn't our problem. He didn't blow up our franchise. So who cares?"
OK, here's why you should care: Because this could easily morph into a giant problem for every franchise; for the entire sport, in fact. If Manny Ramirez wanders into the free-agent market this winter and gets anything close to the four years and $100 million he believes he'll get, think about the message that would send, the precedent that would set.
It would, in effect, be an open invitation to every selfish superstar in baseball to pull a Manny. Act up. Stop hustling. Stop trying. Refuse to play. Make up an injury. Whatever you have to do to get back out there on the free-agent market. It's all worth it.
Why? Because Manny is sui generis. I submit that there is no ballplayer of Manny Ramirez's caliber who is capable of matching (a) Manny's baseball abilities; with (b) Manny's attitude, and still remain a successful ballplayer. No other Hall of Fame talent is going to fake injuries or refuse to play like Manny allegedly did because the things that make them Hall of Fame talents -- things like pride, and obsession, work ethic and even simple image consciousness -- won't allow them to. Do you think Derek Jeter or Albert Pujols are even capable of sandbagging? Do you think Alex Rodriguez -- a guy who is worried about being photographed on his bad side -- would dog it for some contractual advantage?
There are loads of players who have mailed it in or acted like general asses in the past in an attempt to gain some tactical advantage or to punish their club's real or imagined transgressions. None of them, however, have ever really gotten anything out of it. Derek "Operation Shutdown" Bell was a pretty good player for a while and saw his career end the moment he stopped trying and refused to play. Maybe the most famous example was Gary Sheffield, who admitted to intentionally muffing plays while in Milwaukee. Did he cause headaches for his team? Sure he did. But he never managed to hold anyone hostage, and has a surprising number of cities on his resume as a result of his reputation for being difficult. It may even keep him out of Cooperstown.
In baseball, if you dog it, you pay the consequences. Manny Ramirez may stretch that rule to its breaking point, but even if he does get that $100M he's looking for (he won't, but let's say he does) he will not set a precedent vindicating Stark's imaginary horribles. That's because he is unique. He is Manny Ramirez -- a man as lacking in self-awareness and normal human motivation as he is blessed with hitting talent -- and there will never be another one like him, for all of the good and the bad that entails.