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Written by Justin Zeth (Contact & Archive) on February 17, 2009
Happy 14th of February, everyone! And no, I'm not making reference to an oddly surviving Catholic tradition of observing an ancient pagan holiday. I'm making reference, as you no doubt already know, to those four sweetest words in our fair language: Pitchers and catchers report.
Oh, and the old reliable Raccoon Lodge standbys writing exceptionally stupid and/or self-righteous things. Welcome back, guys! We missed you!Actually, given that I'm about to share with you some of the wisdom of Stephen A. Smith, I shouldn't bring up the Raccoon Lodge. It's really not fair to Bill Plaschke and Tracy Ringolsby to put them in the same category as Stephen A. Smith, whose byline should read: Stephen A. Smith watches baseball games once or twice a week, but he doesn't really like it that much.
Enough with the pleasantries. I'm sure you're dying for a surgical breakdown of Stephen A.'s many thoughtful and well-researched points.
Hello, everybody. Allow me to introduce myself.
There's no need for that, Steve! We know who you are. You're the guy who hates the First Amendment. The guy who thinks blogging should be illegal because it's possible that someone might, someday, write a blog post without being properly trained or doing proper research. (Seriously. I am not making this up.)
Call me one of the few friends with a pen whom Manny Ramirez has. I'm quite easy to spot, actually. This is true … despite the fact that I don't wear dreadlocks, don't speak a lick of Spanish and can't conceive turning down $25 million. Not in this (or any) economy.
We have to give Steve credit for—oops. Sorry. STEPHEN A. You're right; my mother always did try to teach me to respect the hell out of my superiors. But I was watching Captain Planet at the time.
Anyway, we have to give Steve credit for coming right out and admitting that he's writing this article because he's Manny's friend. Objectiveness? Not gonna find it here, bucko! Steve's a straight shooter, so he's going to admit right up front that he's Manny's friend and is probably being handsomely rewarded by the Boras Corporation.
But I am known for being a bit audacious from time to time. Someone willing to speak up for the underdog.
You mean like that lovable media establishment under the pressure from the massive, seemingly unstoppable machine of the Evil Blogging Empire?
And this has some relevance to an article about Manny Ramirez, right? You'll get back to me on that one, won't you?And because arguably the greatest right-handed hitter of modern time still finds himself unemployed, after spending the last three months of this past season reminding us all that there actually is a baseball team in Los Angeles, he certainly falls under the "screwed royally" category for the moment.
I admit, I'm a little confused here, because I was under the impression that Manny Ramirez was arguably the greatest right-handed hitter of modern time around 1997 to 2004 or so. You know, when he was in his 20s and early 30s. That dude was freaking awesome. But, see, I'm confused because it sounds like you're trying to get me to believe that 2009 Manny Ramirez, who is 37 years old, is “arguably the greatest right-handed hitter of modern time”. But I know you wouldn't actually do that, because it's so stupid.
Or maybe you just don't understand the concept that, when I sign Manny Ramirez to a contract, I'm paying in advance for his 2009 performance, and not paying retroactively for his 2000 performance? Maybe that would have something to do with why no one wants to give him $75 million over three years?
Steve does have one valid point: Manny Ramirez was screwed royally. By Scott Boras. And himself. Don't blame Frank McCourt or John Henry for Manny's $20 million option not getting picked up. Those guys wanted to pick it up. Seriously. Manny went to great lengths to prevent that from happening; you might have heard a thing or two about that this past summer.Don't ya love it? Before last season, Major League Baseball spent the previous four years breaking its own attendance records. Don't doubt me! I asked those guys myself.
MLB went from having an average attendance of 30,401 per game in 2004 to 32,785 four seasons later. In 2007, MLB says 79,503,175 fans sauntered through the turnstiles in major league ballparks, marking its highest attendance ever. Last season, that figure dipped to 78,588,004, still its second-highest attendance. In other words, nobody's starving. Especially in the case of commissioner Bud Selig, who reportedly pocketed $18.35 million last season.
I'll just charge right through how Steve baldly asserted that attendance records have been broken “the previous four years” and then immediately contradicted himself by admitting that attendance went down last year (i.e., no records were broken.)
Steve: What the hell difference does any of this make? These are all things Manny and Scotty knew when they forced the Red Sox/Dodgers to decline the option. For 20 million freaking dollars.
Yet, MLB apparently wants everyone to believe it's Chrysler, General Motors or AIG, instead of America's pastime. The organization is trickling down its woe-is-me, bailout mentality to a bunch of owners looking to evade paying players the way a few politicians evidently evade paying their taxes these days.
Let's play count the irrelevant, out of context and/or flatly false assertions! How many can you spot?
(Sound of clock ticking.)
Time's up! Did you spot all five? 1. Baseball is not a business (yes, it is, Steve); 2. Baseball is in some way looking for a bailout*; 3. Steve jumped in the same sentence from the crazy bailout talk to asserting this has something to do with owners not wanting to pay players; 4. What the hell do politicians have to do with any of this, anyway? 5. I assume this is a reference to Tom Daschle, but by the end of this paragraph everything is so, um, screwed up that it's impossible to tell what, if any, point Steve was trying to make.
And bonus points if you also spotted the bizarre and nonsensical insertion of the phrase “trickled down” in the middle of that. So, how did you score?* Well, we could talk about the modern ownership trend (© 1994 Satan) of trying to hold cities hostage to build luxurious parks with taxpayer money for the sole financial benefit of the owners...
Congratulations, Stephen A. Smith: You yet again wrote another entire paragraph containing more non sequiturs than sentences and saying absolutely nothing relevant to anything.
Apparently this is supposed to have something to do with Manny Ramirez not getting the $75 million or (ideally) $100 million he wants, so let's read on and see how Steve ties this in. I assume he's going to tie it in... right?The thing is, this should have nothing to do with Manny Ramirez. Baseball's just making it seem that way to bamboozle us, using everything from the economy to Manny's petulant past in Boston as ammunition.
I'm confused again, Steve. Wasn't this column about Manny Ramirez..? Let me make sure I have this right before I proceed: How much money Manny Ramirez gets paid... should... have nothing to do... with Manny Ramirez?
And while we're here, who is “Baseball”? Sounds sinister. Is it like the Illuminati, only with nicer offices? Is there a secret club handshake at the secret club meetings presided over by the secret Grand Poo-Bah? I need to know these things. Whoever “Baseball” is, one thing is clear: Baseball is out to get Manny Ramirez. Oh, they want to get him bad.
As for me, I see no reason at all why Manny's 'petulant past in Boston' should inhibit anyone from giving him a hundred million dollars. That does seem suspicious. It's not like he shoved an elderly clubhouse attendant or made up injuries to sit out important games because he was sulking or anything.Along the way, it's ignoring the 527 career home runs and the lifetime .314 batting average, and it's selling its amnesia to a bunch of fans too willing to look at Manny's trifling tendencies instead of the insidious habits of his employers, which disgust me.
Stan Musial hit .331 with 475 home runs. LET'S GIVE HIM A $100 MILLION CONTRACT TOO.
I dunno...can you guys think of any reason why no one wants to sign Stan Musial to a $100 million contract? It's a conspiracy, that's why.
You know what disgusts me? People who don't have a clue what they're talking about or how logic works, and can't write their way out of the eighth grade, getting paid actual U.S. dollars to write things for major websites.It's one thing for the Red Sox to leak information blasting Ramirez immediately upon trading him. It's another thing entirely for them to do so months later, in December, right when he's trying to get paid.
This seems like yet another good time to point out that Stephen A. Smith hates the First Amendment.Not to mention that it's years after they played the role of enablers, exploiting his skills to erase an 86-year championship drought.
Sweet mother of—did he really just say that? The Red Sox EXPLOITED him? The same Red Sox that paid him 20 freaking million dollars in exchange for his services playing baseball? This is Steve's idea of exploitation? Maybe he's talking about some other Red Sox. Maybe it's another one of those darn conspiracy groups, like “Baseball”.
Let's play the Exploitation game, kids!
“Not to mention that it's years after the Yankees exploited Derek Jeter's skills to erase an 18 year championship drought.”
“Not to mention that it's years after the Steelers exploited Ben Roethlisberger's skills to erase a 3 year championship drought.”
“Not to mention that it's years after ESPN exploited Stephen A. Smith's skills to erase a 14 hour rambling stupidity drought.”And hearing the Dodgers talk about how much they want Manny and how fair their offers have been would be flat-out hysterical if it weren't so corrupt.
I have to agree. This archaic system of letting all the teams make offers for a player's services, and then he accepts whichever one is highest, is so 1776. I propose a new, entirely fair and uncorrupt free agency system that works like this: Stephen A. Smith thinks it over for an hour or two and then comes back and says, “Bobby Abreu should sign with the Twins for 3 years at $165 million a year.” And then the Twins have to give him that contract. Because to do otherwise would just mean you're a corrupt, puppy-kicking a-hole, if you want my and Stephen A. Smith's opinion.
(skipping a bit here...)Yo! Mr. McCourt. Here's what the rest of us don't see:We don't see anyone on the Dodgers' roster capable of batting .396 with a .743 slugging percentage, smacking 17 homers and 53 RBIs in 53 games after Ramirez's July 31 trade. We didn't see anyone increasing attendance by nearly 5,000 fans the way the Dodgers did after Manny was traded to L.A. on July 31, a factor that generated a minimum of $3 million for the franchise.
Hey, Steve? Could you, like, give us a link or something? Tell us how you figured out that 'minimum'? Or, for that matter, where you got the notion that attendance increased by 5,000 fans a game after July 31 in Los Angeles? No? Okay. Cool.
I'm also totally convinced, because Steve says so after all, that the increase in attendance at Dodger Stadium is 100% attributable to Manny Ramirez' presence. It had nothing to do with the more general notion that more butts are in the seats when the team is winning, or at least in the playoff hunt. Because we all know how laughable that is. I mean, look how full the parks in Pittsburgh and San Diego always are.There are few worthy of the four-year, $100 million deal Ramirez reportedly was seeking -- and worth, by the way.
Steve, did you take any English classes in high school? Or middle school? My brain's trying to escape out my left after reading that 'and worth, by the way' clause. We KNOW you think he's worth eleventy bajillion dollars.
Also, there are actually quite a few players worth that much money. More than that, in fact. A couple of them signed much bigger contracts than that in this very offseason, even with the catastrophic collapse of the economy and all. There are probably 20 guys that would get contracts bigger than that if they were free agents now. Maybe more. Manny Ramirez isn't one of them because he's 37 years old and a pain in the butt.
So, if you really want him, why go from offering him a contract that would max out at $60 million for three years on Election Day to $25 million for one year just more than a week ago? "We still have interest in Manny," Dodgers GM Ned Colletti told ESPN.com. Yeah, right!
Once again I'm going to expose myself as an ignoramus, but what the hell, it's only credibility: Maybe it's because you realized no one else is offering him any contract at all? Because he and his agent, Darth Vader, are making contract demands every other front office in baseball is laughing over until their lungs bleed?Allow me to bestow a bit of wisdom.
Thank you. THANK YOU, Stephen A. Smith, for being so gracious. When you're done here, could you turn your wisdomly attention to fixing this whole economy thing? We could really use your help here.
One-year offers are for those who have something to prove
Or 37-year-old head cases.not for someone still capable of smacking 40 to 50 homers a season,
Manny Ramirez's career high in home runs is 45. His totals the past three years: 35, 20, 37. You know, ESPN's a big company, right? I hear big companies are supposed to have fact-checking departments. I guess that was just another one of those crazy urban myths you're always hearing about.
and not for someone who is just 173 blasts away from 700.
Willie Mays is only 40 blasts away! I say we make him a ten year offer.
Or does it work the other way? Like, Slappy Pierre is still 687 blasts away from 700, so we should sign him to a 90 year contract? We need to know. Don't leave us hanging, Steve.One mishap, one argument, one vindictive employer, one bad haircut could damage potential opportunities.
That's true. Nine mishaps, twenty-eight arguments, one vindictive employer and one bad haircut is probably even worse, I imagine.You maximize your potential while you can because the world of big business isn't about to do it for you, and that's something we learn more and more every day.The Red Sox, despite some admittedly valid arguments on their behalf, have definitely done that with Manny. Sure, he was a pain in the neck, but he was too much to take only after they achieved their championship aspirations. Not before.
I, for one, was surprised to find out that once the Red Sox won a championship, John Henry spent the next couple years talking to Bob Nutting on the phone twice a week, getting pointers on how to not win championships. And Bob used to tell him, every week, “Look, John, you've got to get rid of that Manny guy. He's killing you with all that being a pain in the neck stuff.” But John never listened to him. In fact, John was so bad at it that not only did he not get rid of Manny for another four years, but he actually won another championship. Epic fail.Ditto for the Dodgers, too, en route to their latest postseason appearance.
Yes, sir, and now McCourt's blowing the whole thing up. He achieved his lifelong dream: He reached the postseason! Screw that spending money crap now. I can die in peace and Manny Ramirez can go plum to hell.So while everyone's busy talking about how the Dodgers could use that $25 million to get a multiple-player combination of Ben Sheets, Adam Dunn, Orlando Hudson or a bunch of other names, most of whom aren't as widely recognizable as Manny, here's a better question: Why weren't they talking about those guys before?Oops! I forgot. They wanted to win when they got Manny. They just want to save money now.
He stops there, forcing us all to wait on the edge of our seats for the sequel, “The New York Yankees Didn't Sign Manny Ramirez, so Clearly They're Cheap Bastards Who Don't Want to Win,” by Stephen A. Motherloving Smith, and don't you forget it, you unworthy punk.