Man oh Manny

When the smiling visage of Red Sox manchild Manny Ramirez graces the front pages of the Boston Herald, Boston Globe and The New York Times -- as it does today -- we know what the biggest media story around here is. (In the ever-evolving tapestry of the Ramirez persona, we now have Manny describing himself as "a gangster" and as "Manny Being Manny" while teammate Johnny Damon reveals that the slugger was somehow "playing mind games with himself." Is that like mental solitaire?)

In the volatile world of Red Sox Nation -- and as a lifelong Yankee fan, I'm no member -- it's been a hell of a ride for Manny. Roasted on WEEI, booed by the Fenway faithful and called out by several of his teammates for things like not running out grounders and choosing to sit out a game when he was needed, Manny seemed to come close to be traded over the weekend. But all's well that apparently ends well as Number 24 came off the bench to knock in yesterday's winning run and then pronounce his undying affection for the city he regularly demands a trade from.

Manny's periodic meltdowns pose a legitimate dilemma for the local sporting press. On the one hand, we've all seen this act before and it is tiresome and relatively inconsequential. On the other hand, Manny's indifference and nonchalance are not only divisive, but out of character on a team that prides itself on being a bunch of gritty, grimy gamers. And then there's the overarching question of when a 33-year-old multimillionaire should be expected to behave like an adult.

Today's Globe coverage, which includes a page 1 piece Globe front page as well as a column by Gordon Edes column, is upbeat, making the understandable argument that the team is better off keeping their volatile RBI machine.

Today's Herald does a better job of capturing some of the whackiness and absurdity of the situation, particularly in Tony Massarotti's column. Massarotti

"The entire thing played out like some cheesy, made-for-TV movie, right down to the happy ending and some very, very bad acting," he wrote. "Come the offseason, you can bet your Manny Ramirez baseball card that the Red Sox will look to trade him again. And you can bet too, that Ramirez will ask them to."

Today's New York Times piece by Jack Curry shed some light on that obviously scripted moment when Manny barged into Francona's office yesterday -- with translator Kevin Millar in tow -- to call himself a gangster and re-dedicate himself to the cause.

"Francona knew Ramirez wanted to address reporters after having pouted while the Red Sox nearly traded him to the Mets," Curry wrote. "But Ramirez was early for the joint session. Francona tried to tell Ramirez that they would gather later, but he might as well have been speaking Japanese. With Millar prodding him, Ramirez naturally ignored Francona's verbal stop sign and said he wanted to remain in Boston and win another World Series."

"Even for the goofy Ramirez and the chaotic Red Sox, it was a strange sight," he wrote.

Meanwhile, the most interesting story of the weekend came from the Herald's Michael Silverman who reported on Sunday that Francona and Ramirez have an extremely strained relationship and don't talk. Silverman Wouldn't it be interesting if those stories were reported before there was a crisis in the clubhouse?

One other noteworthy piece of reporting comes from's Jayson Stark who writes that Manny-gate was actually a key reason why more big trading deadline deals weren't pulled off. According to Stark's conversations with other baseball officials, so many teams that were interested in dealing with the Sox had to wait until the Ramirez situation was clarified that they found themselves without the time to make alternative trades. "The Red Sox," one GM told Stark. "Were all over the board." Stark

Just another by-product of "Manny being Manny."
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